After working for George Nelson for two years, Kapel moved to California. He had no tools of his own, so his friend and fellow craftsman Sam Maloof took him to an auction, where he bought a lot of five work benches from a school. Within a month, he had sold four of them and had enough money to start a business making furniture.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Kapel both created one-of-a-kind studio pieces in his workshop and also designed for furniture companies. From his years with George Nelson & Associates, he had seen Nelson earn royalties off his popular designs. That sounded attractive to Kapel, who explained his decision by saying, "My fellow craftsmen...thought I was a sell-out. I didn't care. I wanted a nice house and designing for a manufacturer allowed me to do that."
So Kapel made some prototypes, loaded them in his station wagon and began working for Glenn of California and Brown Saltman, while continuing to create one-offs in his studio.
While Kapel insists he's not famous, his work is nevertheless exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and fetches impressive prices in upscale vintage stores today.
From C California Style magazine, October 2010
|Walnut and leather chair|
John Kapel: California Design