Century Chin Hua by Raymond Sobota Asian China Display Cabinet, circa 1980s
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Century Chin Hua by Raymond Sobota Asian China Display Cabinet, circa 1980s
- Creator:Century Furniture (Cabinetmaker)
- Dimensions:Height: 81.5 in (207.01 cm)Width: 36.5 in (92.71 cm)Depth: 15.25 in (38.74 cm)
- Style:Chinoiserie (In the Style Of)
- Materials and Techniques:
- Place of Origin:
- Date of Manufacture:circa 1980s
- Condition:Wear consistent with age and use.
- Seller Location:Savannah, GA
- Reference Number:Seller: LM-131stDibs: LU951427494452
About the Cabinetmaker
Known for its durable vintage display cabinets, nightstands and dressers made of cherry, oak, walnut and more, Century Furniture of Hickory, North Carolina, began as an upholstered goods company in 1947 but added case goods and sophisticated mahogany dining-room furnishings shortly thereafter.
Launched by Harley Ferguson Shuford Sr., a Hickory native who was born to a family of textile mill owners, Century Furniture was intended to be “the best furniture company in the world.” With respect to speed and efficiency, the brand found its footing midway through production on a government contract that Shuford had secured in the early days to manufacture thousands of five-drawer chests. The effort was significant, but it was also a teachable moment as far as Shuford and his team’s learning the ropes of running a factory.
After hiring designer Raymond K. Sobota in 1950 and introducing the enormously popular Citation Collection in 1954, Century established its reputation as a leader in stylishly designed high-quality furniture. Sobota had furniture in his blood — after graduating from Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he worked for his uncle Karl Schmidt, who was at the time a well-known furniture designer for Berkey and Gay and other makers in the Grand Rapids area, then known as America’s furniture capital. Sobota soon launched his own studio, designing furniture as a freelancer for various local manufacturers. Shuford found him by happenstance, journeying to Michigan’s second-largest city to offer a job to another designer who turned him down but recommended Sobota instead.
Century’s Citation line — a sizable collection for the brand that spanned furnishings for the bedroom, dining room and more — is revered in the world of vintage mid-century modern furniture collectors. The pieces sold very well during the 1950s, and the line is an oft-cited success story for Sobota, who would go on to win awards for his work and whose own catalogue of designs for the brand is massive.
In his 40-year career at Century, until he retired in 1995, he designed well over 100 furniture lines. Sobota’s nightstands, cabinets, side tables and more are characterized by his interest in Asian design, distinctly and brilliantly expressed in his Hollywood Regency–style Chin Hua line, which debuted during the 1970s. With its geometrically decorative brass drawer pulls and door handles as well as dining-chair seat-back carvings — all inspired by Asian motifs — this collection has rendered vintage pieces that saw Century’s craftsmen working with alluring ebonized walnut and more, some of the company’s most sought-after work today.
Also in the 1970s as well as in the 1980s, Manhattan interior designer Jay Spectre introduced an Art Deco–informed spirit at Century Furniture, creating oversize, inviting lounge chairs and bentwood benches that featured plush tufted leather cushions. Spectre’s Eclipse collection was at one point among the largest-selling lines for the brand.
Century licensed collections with celebrity interior designers such as Thomas O’Brien, Charlotte Moss and Bunny Williams among others. In 2013, when Alex Shuford III was named president of Century Furniture, the move marked the succession of the third generation to lead this company, which is today one of the world’s largest privately held manufacturers of high-end furniture.
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