By Karen Parr-Moody
Mid-century modern style is beloved by GasLamp shoppers, its geometric forms beckoning to collectors who are highly attuned to sleekness of form. Popularized by American and Danish designers from the 1940s to the 1960s, mid-century modern style delivered teak desks, boxy sofas and starburst clocks to American families.
Among popular mid-century modern forms, the peacock chair remains iconic. Thought to have originated in the Philippines, the peacock chair was especially sought-after in Hollywood during the 1960s and 1970s. Designed in a throne-like manner with a highly ornamented back, the base is usually shaped as an hourglass. The chair’s back resembles the spread tail of a peacock, hence the name.
Many celebrities have been photographed sitting in a peacock chair, including Truman Capote, Elizabeth Taylor and Bette Davis. The peacock chair is often linked to “The Addams Family” television series from the 1960s, as Morticia Addams had one.
Currently there is a marvelous and rare peacock chair at GasLamp Too. From the 1960s, it is a spun fiberglass chair by Russell Woodard, an American furniture designer closely associated with mid-century modern design ($345; Booth 2012). His most famous chairs are typically constructed from cast and tubular aluminum, including the “Sculptura” chair of the 1950s. This spun fiberglass peacock chair by Russell Woodard is not only stylish, it’s extremely sturdy, making it perfect for a sunroom, kitchen corner or covered patio.
This vintage pair of cantilevered bar stools represent some of the more popular designs from the mid-century modern school ($1,495; Booth T-504). From the well-regarded manufacturer Thonet, these chrome-plated stools with tweed upholstery were designed by Anton Lorenz, a designer who lived from 1891 to 1964. Lorenz had a thing for cantilevered chair designs. We think the tweed upholstery on this pair serves as a counterpoint to the polished, cantilevered bases.
The midcentury years were a period of extraordinary creativity in which various designers and architects, including Charles Eames and Richard Neutra, redefined the look of furniture. Milo Baughman (1923-2003) was such a pioneer as one of the leading modern furniture designers of the 20th century. Recently one of his famous chairs was discovered in Booth T-271 at GasLamp Too. It was one of Baughman’s fully upholstered, open-arm Parsons chairs. This beautifully scaled and comfortable design was quickly snapped up, being one of those designs that important designers of yesteryear, including Billy Baldwin, used in their work.
A bit of mid-century modern style belongs in every home. It looks a bit futuristic, so it adds a hint of modernity to a room, but it a total departure from the past, so it plays well with other furniture styles.