Artists & Designers

Sam Maloof (1916-2009)

Sam Maloof was one of America's most renowned contemporary furniture craftsman. Born in 1916 in Chino, California to Lebanese immigrants, Maloof was engaged in woodworking even as a child. He served in the U.S. Army beginning in 1941, and was one of 35,000 WWII troops sent to protect Alaska from Japan. After he left the army in 1945, he returned to Southern California and married Alfreda Louise Ward in June of 1948. His first workshop was in the garage of his house in Ontario, California, where he designed and built a collection of furniture for his home using salvaged materials. In 1953, he moved his studio to Alta Loma, California where it is still in operation today, run by his carefully trained successor Mike Johnson. In 1985, Maloof was the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship - the coveted "genius" grant typically awarded to scientists, scholars, and authors. To date he is the only American craftsman to receive the award.

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).

Fun Facts

In January 1986, a feature writer from People magazine visited his Southern California workshop and enthusicastically declared the furniture designer/craftsman to be the "Hemingway of hardwood."

Web Resources