designing furniture in postwar california: an introduction to milo baughman

Another great modern furniture icon who came out of the American postwar environment was Milo Baughman (1923-2003).  Like Charles and Ray Eames and Greta Magnusson Grossman, Baughman’s furniture has a decidedly modern vibe and came to define what we think of today as the postwar American “look”.  Think angular steel frames for chairs and desks, rectilinear sofas and sweeping chaise longues.  The beauty of the pieces is that they seem to have been made to fit perfectly into today’s modern homes.  I have placed his pieces in the past and I’m glad to see that there is a resurgence of interest in his work.

Baughman grew up in Long Beach, California and the story goes that he was asked by his family to design the interior of their new home – when he was all of 13!!  Wow, that’s confidence!  This kick started his long career which would see him producing furniture with clean modern lines and using a mix of metals and wood veneers for the likes of Glenn of California, Thayer Coggin, and Drexel to name a few.  Now 60 years later, Crate and Barrel has reissued some of his timeless designs.

Some of my favorite pieces include this elegant and masculine curvy chaise circa 1970.  It’s the type of furniture piece I could easily fall asleep in.
This room divider was made for Glenn of California around 1950.  Am I alone in seeing some Chinese inspiration in the shelves?  Don’t they look like a stack of altar tables?
I love this 1950s dowel bench for an entry hall or for the end of a bed.  The open construction makes it light and airy and is a welcome contrast to heavy solid benches.
Ah the cocktail table (top image).  It’s always tough to find the perfect size and shape.  The diagonal pattern in this one gives a great contrast to the horizontal and vertical lines of the furniture.  The ginormous block of wood gives heft and presence to really “fill” and “ground” a room.  And think of it as a stage for displaying a small collection of murano glass vases. Tres James Bond!
Lastly, the perfectly stylish place to curl up with a good design book: this rosewood sofa just oozes elegance.  It’s similar to the rosewood sofa I placed with a Wall Street client not long ago. Move over Don Draper and make room for me!

PS: Thank you for stopping by and reading my feature today.  I love what I do as an interior designer and art advisor, and it’s my hope that through these blog posts I’m enriching and heightening your aesthetic sensibility towards art, design and fabulous interiors in some way ~ Richard Rabel (a.k.a. the modern sybarite)