(First posted 12/30/2010)
Norman Cherner (1920-1987) studied at Columbia University and later taught there in the Fine Arts Department. He was also an instructor at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from 1947-1949, where he explored the Bauhaus concept of multidisciplinary design. While he is best known for his furniture, he also designed graphics, glassware and lighting, as well as prefabricated housing.
One of the first pre-fabricated houses in the United States was Cherner's "Pre-built". It was designed, produced and assembled in 1957 for the U.S. Department of Housing. After being exhibited in Vienna it was shipped back to Connecticut to become his first home and studio outside of New York City.
Norman Cherner's furniture designs include a modular storage system, the "Konwiser Line" of furniture and lighting and molded plywood seating for Plycraft which he designed in 1958. The molded plywood "Cherner Chair" became his most recognized design and is found in furniture collections worldwide.
When Cherner presented his design for the famous chair to Plycraft, he was told it was impractical to produce, yet six months later, he saw the chair on a showroom floor attributed to a designer named "Bernardo," who was a creation of the Plycraft marketing department. Cherner sued Plycraft and won. As a result of the legal actions, the chair is sometimes attributed to the fictitious Bernardo, to Cherner, and even to Paul Goldman, the founder of Plycraft. The chair appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in a Norman Rockwell illustration, so it is sometimes even referred to as the "Rockwell Chair."
If you'd like to see a beautiful Cherner chair restoration, see my Toshmahal post about Dallas furniture restorer/refinisher Hank Tosh. He brought a badly abused chair back to life.
From chernerchair.com, designaddict.com and dwr.com