In the 1952, George Nelson and his New York office designed a chair made out of bent wood that was initially referred to, simply, as the Laminated Chair. The bold yet elegant curve of the single wooden piece forming the back and armrests inspired the nickname Pretzel Chair (during the 80s).
The first small series of the chair was produced without armrests by Plycraft. The ends of the back rest and the chair legs were outfitted with hardwood tips and in the seat, there were eight holes to affix a seat cushion. Due to high production costs the chair never went into serial production.
In 1957, Plycraft claimed they could produce the chair more affordably. The chair was then reintroduced in the 1957/58 Herman Miller catalog, now also with armrests. This time, approximately 100 chairs were produced. George Nelson kept one of these, in walnut, in his office. Several models were also produced in birch, with a core of walnut in the legs and armrest supports. This series had no holes in the seating surface and no hardwood ends.
The Pretzel chair proved too fragile and costly, so Herman Miller stopped the production. George Nelson recommended Norman Cherner to design a sturdier and more affordable chair that could be more easily produced by Plycraft. After Cherner turned in his design to Plycraft, though, he was told the project had been scrapped.
Not long after, Cherner was in a furniture showroom in New York and saw his design for sale! Examining the label, he saw it was from Plycraft and was attributed to "Bernardo." He sued the company in 1961 and won; Paul Goldman, the owner of Plycraft, admitted that Bernardo was a fabricated name. Plycraft continued to produce Cherner's chair until 1972, but Cherner received royalties and proper credit.
Norman Cherner's sons Benjamin and Thomas founded the Cherner Chair Company in 1999. The company produces Cherner's original armchair (based on his original drawings and specifications), side chair, barstool, counter stool, as well as his other designs.
Resources: George Nelson Foundation Vitra Apartment Therapy Core77
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