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3L/C

  • Object:

    Chair

  • Place of origin:

    New York (City) (manufactured)

  • Date:

    1950 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kelley, Douglas (Mr), born 1928 (designer)
    Katavolos, William (Mr) (designers)
    Littell, Ross (Mr) (designers)
    Laverne Originals (designers)
    Gratz Industries (manufacturers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Chrome-plated and enamelled steel, leather

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr Douglas Kelley

  • Museum number:

    W.12-2013

  • Gallery location:

    20th Century, Room 76, case 8

This model 3/LC chair was designed for Laverne Originals, a mid-20th century new York interior design company, generally commercial in character, and producer of wallpapers, fabrics and furniture. An example of this chair, alongside a 4 legged side chair, as well as a related 'cocktail table' and dining table were featured in the Museum of Modern Art's 1953 Good Design exhibition, part of an influential series of exhibitions which also toured to different parts of the world. These exhibitions lent great prestige to the objects exhibited at a time when design exhibitions were relatively rare

The chair has three legs of chrome steel, connected by a T-shaped stretcher in black enamelled steel. The single rear leg rises to full back height, is joined to a cross-piece (resulting in another T shape) and from this is hung a leather sling seat and back, which is also attached to what are, effectively, seat rails. The architectural nature of the chair and its roots in classic, pre-war modernism were implicitly described by its designers in a sales brochure: "We believe that architecture conditions the equipment it contains... We sought furniture that would work within a way of building, which would not complement or compete but in a sense continue the program of lines and planes and function as structural elements of the whole." In 1952 it was given the furniture award of the American Institute of Decorators (now the American Society of Interior Designers) and was chosen by architect Eero Saarinen for his General Motors Technical Centre (1949-1956), an important and well known building at the time.

In 1954, the Merchandise Mart of Chicago, the sponsor of MoMA's Good Design series, celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Good Design show with a retrospective in their wholesale exhibition halls. This exhibition featured 200 products from previous exhibitions: 100 products chosen by a committee from MoMA for their excellence of design, and 100 popular sellers. The latter were garnered from a survey via Retailing Daily of manufacturers who had had two or more products in previous Good Design shows. This chair (the design rather than this example) was one of the 100 items exhibited in this second section.

In 1988 the design was re-commissioned by the Italian manufacturer, Cadsana, and is still in production today. The current example, however, is an original from 1950, fabricated by the subcontracted manufacturers, Gratz Industries, in Manhattan and in the possession of Mr Kelley since that time.

The partnership of Katavolos, Littell and Kelley was established in 1950, shortly after the three graduated from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, where they had studied industrial design. They designed the 57th Street showroom for Laverne, which a 1952 issue of Interior magazine, quoted in the New York Times (Salkaln, 2004), described as a 'piece of sculpture... too pure to support any mundane transactions like selling'. They also created, for Laverne Originals, a range of wallpapers, fabrics and furniture.

Physical description

3/LC chair with three legs of chrome steel, with a T-shaped stretcher in enamelled black steel. The rear leg rises to full back height with a cross-piece, to form another T shape from which hangs a leather sling seat and back.

Place of Origin

New York (City) (manufactured)

Date

1950 (manufactured)

Artist/maker

Kelley, Douglas (Mr), born 1928 (designer)
Katavolos, William (Mr) (designers)
Littell, Ross (Mr) (designers)
Laverne Originals (designers)
Gratz Industries (manufacturers)

Materials and Techniques

Chrome-plated and enamelled steel, leather

Dimensions

Height: 80.5 cm total, Height: 45.5 cm to seat, Height: 28.2 cm floor to bracing bar bottom, Height: 33 cm floor to bracing bar top, Width: 55 cm front legs to outside of tubing, Depth: 53 cm front to back leg to outside of tubing, Width: 52.5 cm seat to outside edge, Depth: 60 cm seat approx, Diameter: 2 cm tubing approx

Object history note

This particular chair was owned and donated by one of the designers, Douglas Kelley. The design was featured in the MoMA's Good Design show of 1953.

Descriptive line

Chrome-plated steel, enameled steel and leather 3/LC side chair

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Eidelberg, M. P. and Johnson, P. 2001. Design 1935-1965. New York: Harry N. Abrams.

Materials

Steel; Enamel; Leather

Techniques

Chrome plating; Enamelling

Categories

Furniture; Leather

Production Type

Mass produced

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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