Plycraft Sultana George Mulhauser Set Nelson/Eames Era/Mid-Centur
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Oct 18, 2013 21:59:59 PDT
Tucson, Arizona, United States
If you came to this page for George Mulhauser you already know his legacy and extraordinary influence on American design though his practice and his teaching. If you searched for other terms or simply found the picture intriguing, please read the entire listing which provides very nice introduction to his work written by his son.
On offer is an Extraordinarily rare icon of modern design: 2 completely original Sultana swivel chairs with unusual original metal bases and the almost-never-seen matching Sultana table. I have been unable to find ANY auction listings for this set in all my sources. Although the Sultana chair with wooden circular base can be found online for $1200.pr and the Sultana desk chair (seemingly identical except for rolling casters, lack of paint and upholstery) IS listed on eBay for $3900 (Buy it now) for ONE chair. An auction record exists for the Sultana desk chair in an LA modern furniture auction but not the price made.
This item is unrestored, with original patina and age-appropriate wear. All the original rubber feet are present. Buyers seeking additional photos should inquire via email, provide direct email address for response and indicate area(s) of interest. Shipping quotes are available on request via email, please give a zip code and tell us if you want the item untouched, dismantled & packed, crated or palletized. If dismantlement, UPS delivery may be possible. Please specify delivery to commercial location with loading dock and.or forklift or residential delivery and advise if you will need delivery via liftgate truck for unloading or inside delivery. If you send your phone number we are happy to answer questions over the phone.
Remembering ‘Mr. Chair®'
By Paul Mulhauser
Son of George C. Mulhauser, Jr.
George C. Mulhauser, Jr. was a forward thinking pioneer of mid-century and contemporary
furniture design who enjoyed challenging the use of materials and production techniques in
his innovative creations, spanning over five decades.
In 1953 he was among the first recipients of Pratt Institute’s Industrial Design degree.
It was the 50's, a time for forward thinking. He was a forward thinker.
His industrious career began as a staff designer in the early glory days of the George Nelson
Studio designing furniture for Herman Miller. Here George Mulhauser contributed to the
development of Herman Miller’s steel frame cases and in 1955, in his first commercial
endeavor at chair design, he created a 20th century classic known as the ‘Coconut Chair’
( a ) - a foam upholstered shell supported upon three legs which takes its characteristic form
by the natural curvatures of its flexible single pentagonal sheet of steel when pulled together
into a triangular form ( b ).
Later in the 50's he’d develop geometric molded fiberglass chairs for Paul McCobb ( c ) and
contributed to the design of an office desk system for Stendig which integrated a novel
recessed file system at arms length across the desk surface. He also taught furniture design
at Pratt and 3-D design at the Newark School of Fine & Industrial Arts.
He understood his customer well - the growing American middle class - as he became a part
of it. It wasn’t long after moving his growing family to the exploding suburbs of NYC in 1955,
among split level homes and shopping malls, that he began working out of his home studio.
His family, neighbors and clients were called upon for fitting and comfort trials – each leaving
pertinent anthropometric data scribed on a studio wall for further comparative reference.
Through correlated research and experience he achieved a unique understanding of seating
relationships ( m ).
Here he created the ‘Mr. Chair
’ ( d ), the first reclining lounge chair formed from a single
sheet - similar in thinking to the 'Coconut Chair' but this time by steam forming veneers into
molded plywood ( e ). Manufactured by Plycraft in Lawrence, MA, it was later also produced
in Italy for the European market. This success was soon followed by a smaller armchair
version aptly referred to as the ‘Jr. Mr. Chair
’. ‘Mr. Chair
’ became a brand, being
associated with a proliferation of his furniture marketed by Directional Industries, NY. His MC
600 series ( f ) was comprised a series of chairs all produced from a single molded shell, the
form of which somewhat resembled his earlier steel ‘Coconut Chair’. Unique expandable
fixtures were devised to manufacture the curlicue plywood moldings of the ‘Fancy-Free’ line,
inspired by a cross-section of a Chambered Nautilus shell ( g ).
In the 70’s, he created cast urethane foam designs ( h ) made by Singer in Canada. And
another first, in which the urethane foam was cast directly into pre-sewn upholstery placed
into the mold, for Directional Industries ( i ). His designs made and sold by Overman AB in
Sweden included a one-piece injection molded polypropylene ‘Stack-Chair’ ( j ).
Other later designs in tubular steel include the ‘Paper Clip’ chair ( k ) and a variety of
contemporary furniture marketed by Design Institute America.
All designs began as sketches and evolved through hand fabricated scale models. Nothing
was left to chance. Final form and fit were always resolved by hand fabricating full size
functional mock-ups ( n ). Hand drafted full size assembly drawings and patterns were
prepared documenting final detailing with which he worked closely to resolve the construction
of first prototypes with his manufacturers.
He enjoyed working from his home studio, close to his supportive wife Mary, with frequent
visits and help from his four children - who came to appreciate the education they’d been
unaware of receiving. All would enter creative fields. Fond memories remain of veneer
sheets soaking in the pool, models left smoldering in the kitchen oven, lovely fumes of molten
clay and fiberglass resin permeating the house, and the car that ran away up the front yard
while stretching copper tubing.
To his credit George never assumed the ‘Mr. Chair’ name. His satisfaction was in the work
rather than the pursuit of personal recognition. His thrill came from every next creation. His
work ethic was contagious... for his work was his play... the two becoming intertwined and
George Mulhauser’s seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm ended on February 7,
2002, leaving behind a legacy of creative genius to inspire many generations to come.
Son of George C. Mulhauser, Jr.
On Dec-08-11 at 18:08:01 PST, seller added the following information: