Modern Classics: The Cherner Chair

Modern Classics: The Cherner Chair

Catrin Morris
Sep 19, 2012

There is so much to love about the Cherner armchair. Let me count the ways. It is elegant and graceful, with twists and curves that are reminiscent of ancient tree roots or undulating sand dunes. At the same time, the chair is a technical masterpiece in furniture making: It seems impossible that anything organic could be bent in such a way without snapping!

Indeed, the Cherner chair looks fragile but is not. In fact, I was shocked at how comfortable these chairs are, even through a long rambling dinner. And I love how the Cherner chair can stand alone as a sculpture (which is nice given its price tag) or as part of a dining set. My personal dream is to have 2 Cherner armchairs at either end of the dining table. Or maybe just a single armchair up against a bare wall.

Norman Cherner designed his magnificent molded plywood chair, made by bending laminated wood that has been layered at varying plys, in 1958. But it took a while for Cherner to actually get credit for this iconic masterpiece. Apparently, after he submitted his design to the company Plycraft, per a previously agreed upon contract, Cherner was told by Plycraft owner Paul Goodman that the company had ditched the plan altogether. Turns out, however, that the sneaky Goldman did in fact manufacture the chair on the sly, with no mention of Cherner! When our man Cherner caught on to this deception, a lawsuit ensued (Cherner won) and royalties were issued. Soon after, production halted. Happily, Norman's sons Benjamin and Thomas formed the Cherner Chair Company in 1999, bringing back into production many of their dad's most popular designs as well as new designs by Benjamin, including the 2003 Cherner round tables.

Cherner chairs, tables and lighting are available through Design Within Reach and many other retailers.

1. From the Cherner Chair Company.
2. Amanda McLaughlan Photography via Desire to Inspire
3. My Parradissi
4. Francois Champsaurs' Apartment in Marseille, Style City
5. Tiffany and Jaan's Scandinavian Inspired Flat

6. Kevin's Haven of Mid-Century Modern Classics.
7. Maurice & Todd's Old Chicago Electric Substation Loft
8. Cindy & David's Sunny, Vintage 1891 Hoboken One-Bedroom
9. For Me For You
10. Desire to Inspire

11. Cherner bar stools from Maria Schrank Interiors via Houzz
12. Home of Pauline C. Metcalf, historian and author. Cherner chairs flank a coffee table by T.H. Robsjohn Gibbings. New York Social Diary.

And for further reading on Norman Cherner and the Cherner Chair, check out our history of the design here.

(Images: as credited above)

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