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Cherner Chairs by Norman Cherner

Cherner Chairs by Norman Cherner

Product: Cherner Chair

Designer: Norman Cherner

Manufacturer: Herman Miller/Plycraft

Release date: 1958

Materials: wood & leather

Price: on request at antibeige

Somehow this chair shape looks familiar: a bit like a mixture of George Nelson’s Pretzel Chair and Arne Jacobsen’s Ant. But the kinship is not only recognisable in the material (bent and pressed plywood), but even a bit closer. In the 1950s, the Hermann Miller company (also known as the manufacturer of the Eames Chairs) developed lightweight plywood chairs that were cheap to produce.

George Nelson, as design director, created the famous “Pretzel Chair” in 1952, still an icon of chair design today. Unfortunately, the chair was not so cheap to produce – and it was also very delicate, not to say fragile. Therefore, production was stopped in 1957 – which also leads to the fact that this chair is a rather expensive collector’s item today.

However, the Plycraft company, as executive producers for Herman Miller, now had unused machinery, material and know-how. George Nelson recommended the architect Norman Cherner, a friend of his, to develop a stable and cheaper design. Cherner designed this chair, Plycraft cancelled the order but produced the chair anyway – which Cherner only realises in a furniture shop when he discovers the rejected design in the salesroom.

He sued the company in 1961, won the lawsuit, the chair continued to be sold and Cherner not only received his money, but also developed an icon of American furniture design with this design. So iconic that to this day the chair doesn’t actually have a name, but is simply called “Cherner Chair”. And if you look closely, you will also recognise Jacobsen’s Ant from 1952: in the “Hourglass” shape of the backrest, which is even more tightly constricted in Cherner.

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