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Norman Cherner Side Chairs

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.

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Creator: Norman Cherner
Norman Cherner Pretzel Dining Side Arm Chair Made by Plycraft 1960's
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Wayne, NJ
Norman Cherner pretzel dining chairs, made by Plycraft in the 1960's.
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Side Chairs

Materials

Wood

Norman Cherner "Pretzel" Chair for Plycraft
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Burbank, CA
Amazing vintage "Pretzel" chair designed by Norman Cherner for Plycraft in the United States, circa 1960s. This incredible design utilizes a molded plywood frame that provides a slee...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Side Chairs

Materials

Walnut

Bernardo Label Pretzel Chair by Norman Cherner for Plycraft, circa 1950s
By Norman Cherner, Plycraft
Located in DELRAY BEACH, FL
Early example of Norman Cherner’s “pretzel” chair designed for Plycraft. In beautiful original condition and original walnut finish. Delicately made with plys of strong wood demonstr...
Category

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

Materials

Walnut, Plywood

Cherner Lounge Side Chair
By The Cherner Chair Company, Norman Cherner
Located in Berkeley, CA
The lounge chair and ottoman designed by Benjamin Cherner is the latest addition to the Cherner seating collection. A molded plywood shell, solid bentwood arm and laminated wood base...
Category

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

Materials

Walnut

Norman Cherner Mid Century Chair
By The Cherner Chair Company, Norman Cherner
Located in Countryside, IL
Norman Cherner mid century chair The chair measures: 17 wide x 20.5 deep x 32 high, with a seat height and chair clearance of 18 inches All pieces of furniture can be had in ...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Side Chairs

Materials

Wood

Set of 4 Cherner Chairs by Bernardo / Plycraft
By Norman Cherner
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Set of 4 dining chairs designed by Norman Cherner for Bernardo (Plycraft). Molded walnut plywood shell with steel rod base. Original labels are missing on some but are signed Bernard...
Category

1950s Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Side Chairs

Materials

Steel, Chrome

Cherner Side Chair with Metal Base
By The Cherner Chair Company, Norman Cherner
Located in Berkeley, CA
The 1958 molded plywood stacking chairs by Norman Cherner are perfect for home, office or cafe. The seat is made of laminated plywood of graduated thickness, from 15 plys to 5 plys a...
Category

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

Materials

Walnut

Pair of Vintage Norman Cherner Plycraft Wood Leather Chairs
By Norman Cherner
Located in Pasadena, TX
Pair of vintage Norman Cherner plycraft bent wood leather chairs Norman Cherner studied and taught at the Columbia University Fine Arts Department and was an instructor at the M...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Side Chairs

Materials

Oak

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Norman Cherner side chairs for sale on 1stDibs

Norman Cherner side chairs are available on 1stDibs for sale. These distinctive objects are often made of wood and designed with extraordinary care. In our Norman Cherner side chairs collection, there are many options to choose from, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. In-stock we have 6 vintage editions of these items, while there are also 2 modern editions to choose from. Many of Norman Cherner's original side chairs were created in the mid-century modern style in the United States during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider side chairs by Harvey Probber, Arthur Umanoff and George Nakashima. The prices for Norman Cherner side chairs can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. The price for these items starts at US$755 and tops out at US$3,520, while pieces like these can sell for US$2,400 on average..

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