Sam Maloof ( American, 1916 - 2009 )

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General Description

Master woodworker Sam Maloof built his legacy on skillful craftsmanship and the creation of timeless furniture. This 1984 armchair is no exception, epitomizing his mastery of natural materials and carefully attenuated curves. Its brilliance arises not from added ornamentation but from the enrichment of the wood's natural grain, texture, and color. As with every piece he built, Maloof carefully considered its every angle and surface, refining shapes with hand tools to assure the result was comfortable, functional, and beautiful.

The design of the low arms on this chair are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also serve a deliberate function. Maloof tells us, "The very low arm on some of my chairs acts as a handle, and, structurally, takes the place of a stretcher below the chair seat. This arm is used to lower yourself into and to raise yourself out of the chair. It also serves as a convenient means of moving the chair forward or backward from a seated position without having to grab the bottom of the chair seat. A stretcher below the seat would clutter the clean flow of my designs. The only time I make a high arm is for rocking chairs, some side chairs, and occasional chairs. Dining chairs for host and hostess may have high arms if requested. The low arm has the added advantage of being both comfortable and not interfering with the motion of your body, particularly your elbows. Furthermore, you can throw your knee over the low arm and slouch with abandon, and the chair will endure."

Drawn from

  • Bonnie, Pitman, ed. Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), 296.
  • Charles L. Venable, American Furniture in the Bybee Collection, (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1989), 168.
  • Sam Maloof, with Jonathan Fairbanks, introduction. Sam Maloof: Woodworker, (Tokyo, New York, San Francisco: Kodansha International Ltd. 1983).

Web Resources

Click here to watch a video of the designer creating an arm for a chair.