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Cherner Chair
Iconic Designs

Cherner Chair

About the Design

Boasting clean lines, gentle curves and organic material, 1958’s Cherner chair distinctly embraced the attributes of mid-century modern furniture, even though its author may not have been as prolific or well-known as his contemporaries.

New York City architect and designer Norman Cherner (1920–87) was fascinated by the principles of the Bauhaus movement and taught at Columbia University — where he’d previously been a student — and at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. He worked in various areas of design, including crafting storage systems and lighting, but the Cherner chair's inspiration came from his passion project: In the late 1940s, Cherner was building low-cost modular housing in upstate New York. He designed affordable furniture for these homes and wrote books such as Make Your Own Modern Furniture about his idea that good furniture should be available for all. The Cherner chair fits this philosophy, but the story begins with the Pretzel. 

In the early 1950s, a plywood chair called the Pretzel debuted in a Herman Miller showroom. It was conceived by John Pile, a designer in the studio of George Nelson, who was then Herman Miller’s design director. 

While beautiful, the Pretzel had structural problems and was expensive to make, so Herman Miller contracted Massachusetts manufacturer Plycraft to produce the chair. A dispute between the two companies and concerns over costs halted Pretzel production in 1957, so Plycraft president Paul Goldman got Cherner (a Nelson recommendation) to improve upon the design. The Cherner chair, in the sculptural swoop of its wing-like arms and sloping seat made of layers of laminated plywood, emphasized the distinctive properties of working with the material, not unlike the work of Charles and Ray Eames. The design became popular in 1958, but Cherner wouldn’t know: Goldman told him the chair was canceled while selling it under a different name.

Cherner sued Plycraft after he’d discovered he’d been lied to. When a judge ruled in his favor in 1961 — which forced Plycraft to pay Cherner royalties and bring the chair to market with proper credit — it was good timing. The chair appeared in Norman Rockwell’s new painting The Artist at Work, which ran on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in September of that year. Cherner’s elegant chair was famous, and it remained in production until 1972.

Today, the Cherner Chair Company, founded by Cherner’s sons Benjamin and Thomas, produces the Cherner chair based on Norman’s original drawings. It was reintroduced in 1999. In addition to manufacturing new cabinets and tables, the Cherner brothers have debuted various iterations of the Cherner chair — including with an upholstered seat, a painted seat and more — and have rescued their father’s other seductive seating designs as well.

Norman Cherner Chair

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Norman 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

21st Century and Contemporary North American Mid-Century Modern Armchairs

Materials

Walnut

Vintage Pair Pretzel Walnut-Plywood Armchairs Norman Cherner Plycraft, Restored
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Philadelphia, PA
U.S.A. (1920–1987) A pioneer both in molded plywood and prefab housing, Norman Cherner studied and taught at the Columbia University Fine Arts Department and was an instructor at the...
Category

Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Armchairs

Materials

Walnut, Plywood

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 Chairs

Materials

Wood, Walnut, Faux Leather

Vintage Sculptural "Pretzel" Dining Chairs by Norman Cherner for Plycraft
By Norman Cherner, Plycraft
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

Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs

Materials

Walnut

Lovely Pair of Norman Cherner Plycraft Pretzel Chairs, Mid-Century Modern
By Norman Cherner
Located in Pemberton, NJ
Lovely pair of labelled Norman Cherner Plycraft pretzel armchairs. This pair has a pickled white finish and bone colored faux leather in nice vintage condition.
Category

Vintage 1980s American Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Faux Leather, Wood

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

Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs

Materials

Wood

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

Vintage 1970s American Mid-Century Modern 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

Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Chairs

Materials

Walnut

Norman Cherner Plycraft 1965 Walnut Upholstery Set, Four '4' chairs MCM Classic
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Philadelphia, PA
Iconic Pretzel side chairs (set of four) designed by Norman Cherner and made by Plycraft, 2 are still retaining original labels. Laminated walnut construction with older recovered bl...
Category

Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Side Chairs

Materials

Upholstery, Walnut

Norman Cherner Pair of Plycraft Pretzel Chairs
By Norman Cherner
Located in Phoenix, AZ
Pair of Norman Cherner for Plycraft pretzel arm chairs circa early 1960's. Newly and impeccably refinished. Price listed is for the pair.
Category

Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Chairs

Materials

Walnut

Norman Cherner Pretzel Chairs in Leather and Wood Frame by Plycraft, Set of 4
By Norman Cherner
Located in Chicago, IL
Pretzel arm chairs by Norman Cherner for Plycraft in bleached white wood and ivory faux leather. Good original condition.
Category

20th Century Mid-Century Modern Armchairs

Materials

Leather, Maple

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 Stools

Materials

Upholstery, Walnut

Set of Norman Cherner Pretzel Dining Chairs, Made by Plycraft, USA, 1960s
By Norman Cherner, Plycraft
Located in London, GB
A set of four original Norman Cherner pretzel dining chairs, made by Plycraft, USA, in the 1960s. Bentwood frames. Priced for the set. In very good original vintage condition. Ships ...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs

Materials

Wood

Iconic Mid Century Cherner Plycraft Bent Ply Chair
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in New York, NY
Iconic Mid Century bent plywood chair designed by Norman Cherner for Plycraft with original Plycraft label, dated 1964. This example is in very good, original condition, showing only...
Category

Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs

Materials

Upholstery, Plywood

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

Vintage 1950s Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs

Materials

Steel, Chrome

Norman Cherner Rare Prototype Armchair for Plycraft
By Norman Cherner
Located in LAGUNA BEACH, CA
Rare Norman Cherner prototype armchair for Plycraft.
Category

Vintage 1960s American Armchairs

Materials

Rosewood

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

Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Side Chairs

Materials

Oak

Norman Cherner Pretzel Armchair for Plycraft Walnut Upholstery 1960s MCM Classic
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Philadelphia, PA
Iconic Pretzel armchair designed by Norman Cherner and made by Plycraft, still retaining original label. Laminated walnut construction with older recovered blue upholstery. Surprisin...
Category

Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Chairs

Materials

Upholstery, Walnut

More Norman Cherner Designs
Norman Cherner Chair
Norman Cherner Chair
Average Price
US$4,004
Number Available
17
Norman Cherner Chair
Materials
Wood, Walnut
Styles
Mid Century Modern
Boasting clean lines, gentle curves and organic material, 1958’s Cherner chair distinctly embraced the attributes of mid-century modern furniture, even though its author may not have been as prolific or well-known as his contemporaries. New York City architect and designer Norman Cherner (1920–87) was fascinated by the principles of the Bauhaus movement and taught at Columbia University — where he’d previously been a student — and at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. He worked in various areas...
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