from the LA Times


Sam Maloof dies at 93; designer and builder of simple, beautiful furniture

His work was initially prized for practicality by Southern Californian homeowners in the 1950s. Later collectors and museum curators valued its elegance and timelessness.

By Janet Eastman
May 23, 2009

Sam Maloof, a designer and woodworker whose furniture was initially prized for its simplicity and practicality by Southern Californian homeowners in the 1950s and later valued for its beauty and timelessness by collectors, museum curators and U.S. presidents, has died. He was 93.

Maloof died Thursday at his home in the Alta Loma section of Rancho Cucamonga, his longtime business manager Roz Bock confirmed. No further details were given.

Maloof, whose career began six decades ago just as the American modernism movement was becoming popular, put usefulness before artistry and turned down multimillion-dollar offers to mass-produce his original designs. He worked out of his home workshop, shaping hardwood, one part at a time, into rocking chairs, cradles and hutches that were shorn of unnecessary adornments.

His hi-fi cabinets, cork-top coffee tables and other modern pieces were instantly praised by home magazine editors and trend-setting interior designers. His walnut chairs and bar stools were installed in several of the so-called Case Study Houses — the modernist, experimental homes in the Los Angeles area built between 1945 and 1966 by Richard Neutra, Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen and other progressive architects.

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