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Sam Maloof

American, 1916-2009

Along with George Nakashima and Wendell Castle, the woodworker Sam Maloof was a guiding spirit of the American Studio furniture movement — a postwar revival of craftsmanship fueled by a reverence for skilled labor and a disdain for mass-produced furnishings composed of plastic and other synthetic materials. Maloof brought a modern interpretation to traditional seating and cabinetry forms, and in doing so he created some of the most beautiful and artfully made furniture seen in the country since the 19th-century heyday of the Shakers.

Maloof was born in then-rural Chino, California, east of Los Angeles. His parents were immigrants from Lebanon, then still part of the Ottoman Empire. Maloof’s father sold fruits and vegetables from a cart, and his mother sold her handmade lace and embroidery. It was through her, Maloof would later say, that he found a love of fine craftsmanship.

Maloof tinkered with woodcarving as a boy, making things such as dollhouse furniture, but in high school he became known for his calligraphy and hand-lettered posters and signs. Into his 30s, Maloof made a modest living as a graphic artist. But in 1948, he and his newlywed bride, Alfreda Ward, a crafts teacher, moved into a new house. To save money, Maloof made their furniture from scrap oak planks, and he so clearly loved the work that his wife persuaded him to make woodworking his profession. Within two years, Maloof’s furniture was getting attention in the press, and in 1951 he received his first significant commission when the industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss hired him to make chairs and cabinets for a new office in Pasadena.

Entirely self-taught, Maloof was an intuitive designer, with a natural sense of scale and proportion. He never sketched plans for a piece in advance; on chairs, he said he worked from the legs up. Maloof used no metal hardware in his furniture; rather than bolts or screws, his pieces derive their strength and integrity solely from Maloof’s painstaking joinery.

Though he made all types of furniture, Maloof is best known for his rocking chairs. His are instantly recognizable by their long glides and attenuated, gently curved spindled backrests. Maloof lavished long hours shaping and sanding his chairs to conform to the human body, then oiling and rubbing the wood to give it a silky tactility.

Vintage Sam Maloof furniture is scarce, if not rare: At his peak of productivity in the 1970s, Maloof (by then, working with three assistants) made an estimated 300 pieces a year. His tables and smaller cabinets are priced at around $15,000; because they are his signature forms, rocking chairs made of walnut bring about twice that, more in exotic woods such as tiger maple and rosewood.

As you will see on 1stDibs, Sam Maloof designs are exemplary objects of both beauty and utility — warm, welcoming and rich in honest character.

Average Sold Price
$3,490
Styles
Materials
Related Creators
Sam Maloof Rocking Chair 1979 , With Special Provenance.
By Sam Maloof
Located in Pawtucket, RI
Beautiful, iconic and perfectly executed early walnut Sam Maloof rocker from 1979. A very Special chair with exceptional provenance and in excellent ori...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Sam Maloof

Materials

Walnut

Sam Maloof Highback Horned Desk Chair
By Sam Maloof
Located in Chicago, IL
Sam Maloof Highback Horned Desk Chair, Oiled Oakwood reupholstered with Spinneybeck leather. Branded manufacturer's marks to underside 'Maloof California'. Adjustable seat now set at...
Category

1970s American Craftsman Vintage Sam Maloof

Materials

Leather, Oak

Sam Maloof Early Sculptural Claro Walnut Dining Chairs - Set of 8
By Sam Maloof
Located in Coronado, CA
A large and exquisite set of eight dining chairs by the California master, Sam Maloof, executed in stunning, highly figured claro walnut. Six of the chairs were built in the 1960s an...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Sam Maloof

Materials

Walnut

Rare Signed & Dated Book by Sam Maloof Furniture
By Sam Maloof
Located in San Diego, CA
Beautiful illustrations signed and dated by Sam Maloof 2002 nice clean condition.
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Singaporean Mid-Century Modern Sam Maloof

Materials

Paper

Sam Maloof Style 'Evans' Rocking Chair
By Sam Maloof
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Stephen Malm Rocking Chair made with Black Walnut Wood Hand-Crafted & Created by the Artist Featuring Extra Long Rocking Legs Height: 46" Width: 25.25" Depth: ...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Sam Maloof

Materials

Wood, Walnut

Stunning Walnut and Fiddle Back Maple Credenza Sam Maloof
By Sam Maloof
Located in BROOKLYN, NY
Superb American craftsmanship. Every detail refined. Cabinet features two drawers above two doors concealing two adjustable shelves with exotic wood inlay and pulls. Master woodworker Sam Maloof...
Category

1990s American American Craftsman Sam Maloof

Materials

Ebony, Walnut

Sam Maloof Music Stand
By Sam Maloof
Located in New York, NY
Beautiful walnut architectural music stand by Sam Maloof, circa 1965.
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Sam Maloof

Materials

Wood, Walnut

Sam Maloof Music Stand
Sam Maloof Music Stand
H 51.5 in W 37.25 in D 17.75 in
Double Rocking Chair by Sam Maloof
By Sam Maloof
Located in New York, NY
Double rocking chair by Sam Maloof, circa 1980's signed Sam Maloof f.A.C.C./©, dated 1988 and numbered No. 9. Literature Jo Lauria, Craft in America: ...
Category

1980s American Modern Vintage Sam Maloof

Materials

Wood, Walnut

Double Rocking Chair by Sam Maloof
Double Rocking Chair by Sam Maloof
H 46.5 in W 44.25 in D 46.5 in
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Creators Similar to Sam Maloof

Sam Maloof furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Sam Maloof furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of wood and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Sam Maloof furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. Many of the original furniture by Sam Maloof were created in the mid-century modern style in united states during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Arthur Elrod, Ray Eames, and Billy Baldwin. Prices for Sam Maloof furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $375 and can go as high as $65,835, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $21,827.

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