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Exquisite Mahogany and Bookmatch Bird's-Eye Maple Chest by Renzo Rutili

$16,500per item

About

If a piece feels like Tommi Parzinger, but is marked Johnson Furniture, there can be only one answer as to its Designer: Renzo Rutili. Mr. Rutili was a seminal furniture designer of the 20th century who is sometimes overlooked in retrospect. Much of his work is more sophisticated, cutting edge and downright fabulous than any produced during his era. This Johnson Furniture Company chest, circa 1955, is a mesmerizing example of this Gentleman's awesome talent. Exceptionally crafted solid mahogany case construction with lovey detail. The drawer fronts are veneered in bookmatched bird's-eye maple and finished in a walnut stain. Stunning solid brass hardware accent the design. This is a piece made to anchor and important space. Excellent restored condition. The chest has been professionally cleaned and meticulously restored and re-lacquered. All hardware has been professionally cleaned and polished. The brass demonstrates wonderful patina. Retains the maker mark. There are two (2) of these chests available. The price listed is for one (1) chest. For custom painted lacquer color, please add $1000 per chest.

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    Ships From: Atlanta, GA
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    This item cannot be returned.

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About the Manufacturer

Johnson Furniture Co.

Take a medal from the King of Sweden, a splash of the roaring twenties, and a series of talented designers and you get Johnson Furniture Co.’s elegant Art Deco and period-revival furnishings as well as a taste for why the Johnson name prevailed for over a century in American furniture manufacturing.

A wealth of forests rendered Grand Rapids, Michigan, a logging center during the 1800s. It eventually gained recognition for its furniture industry. The city became a destination for woodworkers who hailed from all over the United States as well as Europe, and Johnson Furniture Co. cofounder Carl Johnson, who had been recognized for cabinetmaking by the head of the royal family in his native Sweden, brought his royally acknowledged talents to America with his two brothers, Hjalmar and Axel in 1887. Together, they established Cabinetmakers Co. in Grand Rapids. In 1908, the brothers sold their start-up and founded Johnson Furniture Co.

Tom Handley, of the well-respected English furniture company Waring and Gillow, became an in-house designer with Johnson Furniture Co. in its early days. Handley would stay on as part of both the Johnson label and of Johnson-Handley-Johnson — a companion company that spun off from Johnson in 1922 — until his death in 1926. At the time, archaeological discoveries were all the rage. The greatest influence on Art Deco jewelry, for example, was the excavation of the tomb of King Tut in 1922, and some vintage Tom Handley designs were adaptations of Egyptian furniture. The brand specialized in a range of styles that included Art Deco, Chippendale, Queen Anne and more.

Acclaimed designer David Robertson Smith, who had made furniture in the Arts and Crafts style for the likes of Gustav Stickley, carried the Johnson Furniture Co. creative team into the early 1930s. Grand Rapids had by then become a thriving hub with respect to the mass production of furniture, and Smith’s sophisticated Dynamique line — a collection of coffee tables, cabinets and more in alluring woods such as walnut and mahogany and based on French furniture — was among the first mass-produced modern furniture made in America.

Johnson hired Lorenzo Rutili, a Carnegie Institute graduate who studied design in Europe, to lead the brand’s design division. Rutili oversaw 30 years of successful Johnson Furniture Co. collaborations with other notable designers including Paul Frankl, Eliel Saarinen, Bert England, J. Robert F. Swanson and Pipsam Saarinen Swanson. After wrapping up his tenure at Johnson, Rutili moved on to design furniture at Tomlinson in North Carolina.

During the 1960s, Kipp Stewart and Milo Baughman designed residential furnishings for Directional — a favorite of mid-century modern furniture enthusiasts — and Johnson produced these pieces, becoming the sole manufacturer for the North Carolina brand.

After a merger with Timberline Inc., Johnson Furniture Co. secured contracts for hotels, motels and university dormitories. In 1983, Johnson and Rose Manufacturing became RoseJohnson Inc. It was later purchased by La-Z-Boy.

On 1stDibs, find a collection of vintage Johnson Furniture Co. case pieces and storage cabinets, tables and other furniture.

About the Seller
5.0
Located in Atlanta, GA
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Established in 1998
1stDibs seller since 2014
331 sales on 1stDibs
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