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Monday, July 18, 2011

The designs of Luther Conover

I have an attraction to furniture with skinny iron legs, hairpin or otherwise, so Luther Conover's designs really appeal to me. When I decided to do a post about Conover, I was surprised that I couldn't find biographical information about him anywhere.

I've taken up the challenge and will keep looking, but in the meantime, here are some of his pieces that I especially like.


wright20.com

1stdibs.com

interiordesign.net


farnsworth.1stdibs.com

wright20.com

1stdibs.com

1stdibs.com

r20thcentury.com

farnsworth.1stdibs.com


Update (7/19/2011): I had included the chair below in today's post, but discussion in the Comments section prompted me to make further inquiries of the seller and of the Conover family. I heard from the seller, who readily admitted that he doesn't know much about Conover and based his attribution on information from another dealer. I haven't heard from Conover's granddaughter, but if she is able to provide documentation that this was indeed her grandfather's design, I'll be sure to update this post further. Till then, it is going to the "Who Knows?" column.


1stdibs.com

Update (10/3/2011): I received an email from Abigail Conover, the granddaughter of Luther Conover. In part, she said:

I have no proof that it was designed or built by my grandfather.  It doesn't show up in any of his catalogs or old photos that we have.  I also checked with my father, who is very familiar with his work, and he confirmed that it is probably not attributable to him.

17 comments:

  1. The 1stdibs chair you show here I was just recently researching when it was on Ebay. I would say that the Luther Conover attribution is highly questionable on that one, especially since it is almost identical in all regards to a wood framed design by Finn Juhl.

    Also the Worthpoint image is “in the style of” if you take a look at the original auction...

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  2. Wow, gorgeous. I love the simplicity.

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  3. @Jonathan: You're right...I didn't read the Worthpoint description carefully enough, so I removed that image. I'm curious as to what you found in your research that makes you doubt the attribution of the 1st Dibs chair. Is the similarity of the back and seat to an armchair design by Juhl for Baker? I've contacted the seller and Abby Conover (Luther Conover's granddaughter) to see if they have any documentation.

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  4. @Rhan: I think that's what I love about them too...the starkness.

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  5. Dana,

    It’s not what I found, but what I didn’t find, that makes me question the attribution. And what I didn’t find is a single pictorial reference to that chair in any of the research materials at my disposal.

    What I did discover is that there are clear similarities to the Finn Juhl designs for JG Furniture, specifically the 55-75 chair, unfortunately there is no record of Juhl ever using a iron frame for this chair.

    Certainly there is nothing in the historical record to suggest a Luther Conover attribution outside of the “let’s pull an obscure name out of a hat because who is ever going to check” methodology of mid century designer attribution.

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  6. @Jonathan: That certainly does seem to be a method commonly employed by many sellers. I'd think it would be especially easy to do in the case of Conover, since I can't find anything about him online. I'm hoping his family can fill some very large gaps, both in terms of his biography and his designs.

    You have far greater access to ephemera than most of us do, so I haven't found a time yet when I was unwilling to bow to your tireless and superior research. In fact, I welcome and value it very much. Never hesitate to share with me.

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  7. I love all comments...but you can see that this type really delights me. Finding out what sort of research someone else has done and being inspired to dig deeper myself is so much fun!

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  8. Beautifully done! Love the red/orange chair which is reminisent of Jean Prouvé's Kangaroo Chair - yum!

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  9. @chairsmith: Do you have any information about the chair in the last photo?

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  10. Ooooo, I also love the look of metal legs. Nice contrast with rich wood tones.

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  11. my grandfather and i made a wood and metal table withbottom shelf. black metal and wood furniture has a special place in my heart :)

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  12. Skinny iron legs are the coolest. I love all these pieces, most especially the study desk.

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  13. Dana, we are unfamiliar with the work of Luther Conover and the chair in question is new to us. We would tend to concur with Mr Goldstein in that the 'unattributed' chair shares similarities with certain designs by Finn Juhl however, we have been unable to locate a chair by Juhl which utilises anything other than wood as its structural component.

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  14. Thank you for this post. I have now discovered another great furniture designer.
    Give me steel rod furniture from the 1950's anyday.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I hope you will read regularly and comment often.

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  15. I just picked up one of his fiberglass chairs; I'll be posting it on my blog soon

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    1. Cool! I'll be on the lookout for that post.

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