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Norman Cherner

American, 1921-1987

Norman Cherner was an influential designer who explored postwar technological innovations and how to incorporate them into furniture production and architecture. And while its history is complicated, his Cherner chair is one of the most successful examples of mid-century modern molded plywood seating.

Born in New York City, Cherner was an architect and a prolific designer who taught at Columbia University’s Teachers College. An enthusiast of the Bauhaus, he gave lectures in the late 1940s on the principles of the legendary German design school at the Museum of Modern Art.

Cherner was fascinated with the concept of cost-efficient design, and this extended into his pioneering ideas for prefabricated housing. His philosophy was that a modular home should be a complete design concept that included economical furniture and lighting. He published several DIY books, such as How to Build a House for $6,000. Cherner caught the interest of a housing cooperative in upstate New York and was contracted to design and oversee the construction of prefabricated housing in the town of Ramapo. The U.S. Department of Housing assembled a pre-built Cherner home for exhibition in Vienna.

But he is best known for his chair.

In the 1950s, one of George Nelson’s designers, John F. Pile, created the Pretzel chair. It had structural problems and proved too costly to make at Herman Miller, where Nelson was director of design. Production was subcontracted to Massachusetts company Plycraft, but the agreement didn’t last long owing to a dispute between the furniture manufacturers. Based on a recommendation from Nelson, Plycraft sought out Cherner to redesign the chair so that it would be durable and affordable to produce.

Cherner submitted his redesign only to be told that Plycraft had shelved the project. However, Plycraft secretly began producing what would become the Cherner chair under a different name — and Cherner later stumbled across his seat in New York. Cherner sued Plycraft and won. The chair became instantly popular after being featured in a Norman Rockwell illustration for a Saturday Evening Post cover in September of 1961.

Other noteworthy Cherner designs include his Konwiser furniture line, Multiflex storage units and tube lighting. The Museum of Modern Art praised his Konwiser collection as “some of the most progressive furniture designs available to the American public.”

In 1972, Plycraft discontinued production of his chair, and Cherner died in 1987. In 1999, his two sons founded the Cherner Chair Company and began making furniture based on their father's original designs for armchairs, chairs — including the Cherner chair — tables and credenzas.

Find vintage Norman Cherner furniture on 1stDibs today.

Average Sold Price
US$3,806
Styles
Materials
Cherner Armchair
By The Cherner Chair Company, Norman Cherner
Located in Berkeley, CA
Originally introduced in 1958, the iconic molded plywood armchair by Norman Cherner is found in collections worldwide. Reissued in exacting detail from the original drawings and mold...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner

Materials

Walnut

  • Cherner Armchair
  • Cherner Armchair
  • Cherner Armchair
  • Cherner Armchair
H 31.5 in. W 26.5 in. D 21.5 in.
Cherner Ottoman
By Norman Cherner, The Cherner Chair Company
Located in Berkeley, CA
The ottoman is the latest addition to the Cherner seating collection. This new design combines a molded plywood shell and laminated wood base which are combined to produce a dynamica...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner

Materials

Walnut

  • Cherner Ottoman
  • Cherner Ottoman
  • Cherner Ottoman
  • Cherner Ottoman
H 15.5 in. W 17.5 in. D 19 in.
Norman Cherner Dining Chairs, Set of Eight
By Norman Cherner
Located in Atlanta, GA
Set of eight sculptural dining chairs, designed by Norman Cherner for Plycraft, American, circa 1950s. They have all been refinished and reupholstered in black vinyl. They measure: 3...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner

Materials

Upholstery, Wood

  • Norman Cherner Dining Chairs, Set of Eight
  • Norman Cherner Dining Chairs, Set of Eight
  • Norman Cherner Dining Chairs, Set of Eight
  • Norman Cherner Dining Chairs, Set of Eight
H 31.25 in. W 17.5 in. D 19 in.
Cherner Bar Stool with Metal Base
By The Cherner Chair Company, Norman Cherner
Located in Berkeley, CA
The 1958 molded plywood stools by Norman Cherner have been seen in some high places. Available in counter or bar height with a wood or metal base. The seat is made of laminated plywo...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner

Materials

Walnut

  • Cherner Bar Stool with Metal Base
  • Cherner Bar Stool with Metal Base
  • Cherner Bar Stool with Metal Base
  • Cherner Bar Stool with Metal Base
H 39.5 in. W 18 in. D 20 in.
Norman Cherner Bar Stools
By Norman Cherner
Located in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Stylish Norman Cherner bar chairs. These hand crafted chairs are individually signed and numbered by the makers from the world renowned company. American Natural Walnut veneer up...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner

Materials

Wood, Walnut, Faux Leather

  • Norman Cherner Bar Stools
  • Norman Cherner Bar Stools
  • Norman Cherner Bar Stools
  • Norman Cherner Bar Stools
H 43.5 in. W 17 in. D 18 in.
Vintage Sculptural "Pretzel" Dining Chairs by Norman Cherner for Plycraft
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Burbank, CA
Stunning vintage sculptural "Pretzel" dining chairs designed by Norman Cherner for Plycraft in the United States, circa 1960s. This incredible design utilizes a molded plywood frame ...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner

Materials

Walnut

Cherner 2 Door 2 Drawer Credenza
By Norman Cherner, The Cherner Chair Company
Located in Berkeley, CA
Multiflex casegoods are lightweight, strong and made entirely from laminated, cross-ply and molded plywood. Clear or Classic finish on American walnut veneers are complimented by the...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner

Materials

Walnut

  • Cherner 2 Door 2 Drawer Credenza
  • Cherner 2 Door 2 Drawer Credenza
  • Cherner 2 Door 2 Drawer Credenza
  • Cherner 2 Door 2 Drawer Credenza
H 21 in. W 60 in. D 20 in.
Vintage Norman Cherner Swiveling Bar Stools for Plycraft
By Norman Cherner
Located in Cincinnati, OH
A pair of rare swiveling sculptural molded dark walnut bar stools with black leatherette upholstery on the seat back and bottom. A sculptural look with black metal foot rests and det...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner

Materials

Upholstery, Walnut

Browse all Furniture from Norman Cherner
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Norman Cherner Sellers

Mid Century Mobler
4.8
Danish Modern NoHo
5.0
Mod and Intrigue
5.0
Modern Hill Inc.
4.6
Artemis Virtu
No Reviews Yet
Barbarella Home
4.8

Norman Cherner furniture for sale on 1stDibs

Norman Cherner Furniture is available on 1stDibs for sale. These distinctive objects are often made of wood and designed with extraordinary care. There are many options in our Norman Cherner collection of furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. In stock, we have 23 vintage editions of these items, while there are also 27 modern editions to choose from. Many of Norman Cherner's original furniture was created in Mid-Century Modern style in North America during the 21st Century and Contemporary. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Frederick Weinberg, Charles Pollock and Richard Schultz. The prices for Norman Cherner furniture can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. 1stDibs's price starts at $419 and tops out at $12,127, while pieces like these can sell for $2,519 on average.

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