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Monday, October 29, 2012

George C. Mulhauser, Jr.

George C. Mulhauser, Jr.
George Mulhauser (1922-2002) received an industrial design degree from Pratt Institute in 1953. His career began as a staff designer for the George Nelson Studio designing furniture for Herman Miller. He contributed to the development of Herman Miller’s steel frame cases, and in 1955 his first commercial attempt at chair design resulted in the Coconut chair, which is usually attributed to George Nelson.

Later in the 1950s Mulhauser developed molded fiberglass chairs for Paul McCobb and contributed to the design of an office desk system for Stendig. He also taught furniture design at Pratt and 3-D design at the Newark School of Fine & Industrial Arts.

In 1955 he moved his family to the suburbs of New York City and started working out of his home studio. Here he created the Mr. Chair, the first reclining lounge chair formed from a single sheet. It was manufactured by Plycraft in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The Mr. Chair  was followed by a smaller armchair called the Jr. Mr. Chair. His MC 500 series for Directional was a group of chairs all produced from a single molded shell, and the Fancy Free line featured curlicue plywood moldings.

Later designs included cast urethane pieces made by Singer in Canada, the one-piece injection molded polypropylene Stack-Chair by Overman in Sweden, and the tubular steel Paper Clip chair for Design Institute of America.

From georgemulhauser.com


Coconut chair
pratt.edu

Fiberglass chairs for Paul McCobb
1stdibs.com

Mr. Chair
vandm.com

Plycraft lounge chairs
danishmodernla.com

Kangaroo lounge chair
modernlove20.com

Plycraft rocker
designaddict.com

Fancy Free chair
antiquehelper.com

Pod chairs for Overman
homeanthology.com

We've sold several Plycraft chairs since we opened the store, but this is my favorite.


Plycraft chair, presumably by Mulhauser, that we sold at the store

8 comments:

  1. Is there an Aussie on earth that wouldn't want one of Mulhauser's Kangaroo Chairs in their home?! It's a new addition to my covet list, that's for sure!

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    1. Isn't that just the coolest little chair ever? I'd love to have one too!

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  2. Dana --
    Thanks for the furniture lessons! I'm always a little amazed at how you guys know all the pieces and makers. I guess it's just a matter of doing your researching and training your eye. Is there one definitive source/book/site that would be good for me to learn up on? Cheers - CT

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    1. Yes, my SIL and I spend hours and hours every day in front of the computer doing research. We also have over 100 books (and the collection is constantly growing)that we refer to. After a while, though, you're right that you do train your eye to recognize the main characteristics and general feel of the major designers.

      Probably the best books to have are 50s Decorative Art and 60s Decorative Art by Charlotte and Peter Fiell, along with 1000 Chairs by Charlotte Fiell. Also, it's good to have a couple of books on Herman Miller and Knoll furniture, since so much iconic mid-century furniture was produced by those companies.

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  3. The Eames Lounge knockoffs were also produced under the Mr Chair name, correct? Personally, I think that the version in your post is much better looking,though the only ones that I've found around here have been in vinyl.

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    1. Yes, Nick...there seem to have been numerous incarnations of the Mr. Chair, which has always been confusing to me. I started to include one of the Eames knockoffs in this post, but I thought that would just confuse everyone else too.

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  4. Those chairs are exquisite!
    I saw the coconut chairs exhibited at the Chicago Art Institute, such a design statement.

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    1. The deeper I get into mid-century design, the more I learn about "the men behind the men"...people like Mulhauser and Irving Harper who quietly went about designing for the big names like George Nelson and Charles Eames and getting almost no credit for their work. Interestingly, there were a number of "women behind the men" too, and I'm sure they'll get their own posts in due time.

      Their work was so important to 20th century design, and they deserve to be recognized now for some of the gorgeous pieces of furniture they gave us.

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