Spotlight on Armchair Genius

CA-Modern’s ‘Unsung Masters’ series puts focus on obscure MCM furniture designers
Fridays on the Homefront
CA-Modern's 'Unsung Masters of the Mid-Century' series lifts the veil of obscurity away from significant yet relatively unknown artists. The latest round shines a light
of overdue recognition on ten handpicked furniture designers, including Paul
McCobb (above).
Fridays on the Homefront
Unsung: Charlotte Perriand (left) and Alexander Girard were undervalued.
Fridays on the Homefront
Fall '17 CA-Modern: now available.
Fridays on the Homefront
Bay Area furniture dealer and collector
Vince Bravo.

'Master' is a term like 'genius,' sometimes bandied about too loosely in this hyperbolic age.

Furthermore, fame does not find every bonafide master or genius, as some wield untold influence while laboring in obscurity.

Lifting that veil of obscurity is the motivation behind 'Unsung Masters of the Mid-Century,' the new continuing series now appearing in CA-Modern magazine. For the latest installment, in the new fall 2017 issue, we shine the light of overdue recognition on a field very close to home for Eichler owners: mid-century modern furniture design.

To check out profiles of our ten thoughtfully selected 'Unsung Masters of Furniture Design,' click here for a PDF version. Otherwise get inside your copy of the print edition of the fall '17 CA-Modern, now in the mail to our homeowners.

"As a budding (or even longtime) modernist, you can encounter marvelous furniture pieces whose style is an exciting departure from the bland uniformity of homes furnished at Ashley Homestores or Ikea," our story promises. "The human body having evolved very little in the past century, there are designs dating back to the birth of modernism that are still genius today."

To handpick our ten terrific designers for the latest leg of our series, we enlisted the expertise of Bay Area modern furniture dealer and collector Vince Bravo.

"My tag line these days is 'Last-century Modern,'" quipped Bravo. While his day job the past two decades has been teaching English at a San Mateo high school, Bravo still boasts of having "something for every room in the house" in his sizable inventory.

Most of it he sells at two collective shops: Stuff in San Francisco and Antiques Unlimited in San Carlos. As such, Bravo has substantial appreciation for designers both well known and obscure. "I think there's a pleasure in both," he said amiably.

Although the names of most of our unsung designers are by definition unfamiliar, according to Bravo their work is likely more recognizable. By name they are Charlotte Perriand, Arthur Umanoff, Paul McCobb, Muriel Coleman, Greta Magnusson-Grossman, Paul Evans, Luther Conover, Paul T. Frank, Milo Baughman, and Alexander Girard. Any ring a bell? Well, then how about their furniture? 

"For the most part, the majority of them had sort of two different lines of production," Bravo observed of our ten furniture masters, citing Paul Frankl and Milo Baughman as specific examples. In addition to the scarcer "one-of-a-kind sort of pieces," he said, "there are lines that are mass, mass produced."