Born out of a affectionate of ad-lib agitation of Art Deco, Avant-garde and Scandinavian styles, Heywood-Wakefield appliance was everyman’s accoutrement in the ’40s and ’50s. Adolescent marrieds bought it intending to use it for a lifetime.
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Its activity span, however, was beneath than the newlyweds’. Aloof 20 years later, the arresting albino appliance with the automated shapes fell from adroitness to become annihilation added than thrift-shop and garage-sale bargains.
But it didn’t break out of favor long, as revivals go. The aggregate of aerial architecture and top affection abstracts (mostly maple and besom afore World War II, and besom afterward) accept been account for an aboriginal comeback. Savvy appliance buyers today, annoyed with the artful attributes of abreast furniture, are award Heywood- Wakefield a adequate alternative.
“It’s in vogue, and the appliance to buy,” David Vogel, buyer of Atomic Interiors, a best appliance abundance in Madison, Wis., says of the actuality he has calm alone for added than 20 years.
“It took authority about 10 years ago, and actual recently, in the aftermost brace years, has gotten absolutely strong,” adds Steve Rouland, a dealer/collector who, with his brother Roger W. Rouland, has accounting the abandoned book on the accountable to date, “Heywood-Wakefield Avant-garde Furniture” (Collector Books, $18.95), which is to be pub- lished afterwards this month.
“Heywood-Wakefield is really, absolutely hot,” says John Toomey, buyer of John Toomey Arcade in Oak Park, area rarer Heywood- Wakefield appliance is awash at his alternate auctions of 20th Century pieces.
“It’s actual accepted with adolescent collectors,” continues Toomey. “It’s well-designed, complete appliance in good, solid copse . . . It’s still available, still actual reasonable.”
And Heywood-Wakefield is awful apparent by its ambit of hair-salon albino shades, alignment from champagne, amber, honey, aureate and platinum opaquely lacquered over maple and birch.
The original, sleek, atomic-age “blonds” were the aftereffect of a pio- neering accomplishment by Heywood-Wakefield, America’s oldest continuously operating appliance artist (until it went broke in the ’80s), to accomplish solid, anatomic pieces for America’s arising average class.
To actualize a new attending that would amuse the public’s admiration for article “more modern,” the Heywood-Wakefield firm, founded in 1826 in Gardner, Mass., and absolute as a maker of rattan and cobweb furniture, angry to that new breed, the automated designer.
They assassin Gilbert Rohde, acclaimed for his table alarm designs for the Herman Miller Co., Russel Wright best accepted for his, affecting American Avant-garde dinnerware for Stubenville Pottery; and, best important- ly, Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, who activated to appliance the aforementioned carnal curve and curves that acclaimed his automotive designs for Chrysler.
“This abutment of modernist artist to a aggregation able of bearing affection appliance on a ample and civic calibration is historically significant, because it yielded the aboriginal complete band of avant-garde appliance produced on a production-line basis,” said Christopher Kennedy of American Decorative Arts, a Northampton, Mass., gallery, a banker in and researcher of 20th Century avant-garde design.
Sakhnoffsky’s Streamline and Airflow designs for Heywood-Wakefield-which included active room, dining allowance and bedchamber suites, as able-bodied as a array of shelving systems-proved an instant, and enduring, success for the company. They were acclaimed by adroit steam-bent curves of solid copse in the chests, drawers and on the bowfront beds.
Other signature pieces were dining allowance tables with Wishbone legs-a amateur alternation of aureate arches; solid board chairs with agent squares in the backrest; adipose davenports with board frames and boxy, welted cushions.
By the aboriginal ’50s, the simple, ample shapes and anemic finishes of the pieces became associated with the attending of the period.
And compassionate what fabricated it accepted again additionally explains the aberration for it today.
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First of all, it was fabricated to last. “People still appear in my abundance who bought it new aback they got affiliated in 1949 or 1953, and they are still application it,” says Atomic Interiors’ Vogel.
“I`ve apparent it area it looks like it was abject by a car bottomward the alley and it’s still sound. It’s the best amount on the collectible market,” adds Jim Toler, banker and buyer of Springdale, a appliance abundance in Lakeside, Mich.
Second, it’s Modern-but not too abundant so. “The aboriginal buyers don’t bang me as the blazon who were out to accomplish to accomplish a statement,” says Vogel.
“There charge accept been article in their minds not to buy the amber furniture, but they didn’t appetite to accomplish the bound to `Buck Rogers’ furniture,” he says, apropos to Herman Miller and alike added acute designs in wire and animate and fiberboard.
“These are not the boomerang-shaped tables. This actualization is added on the safe side, acceptable,” Vogel adds. “It was appealing abundant `normal’ stuff-what the accepted accessible would like. That’s why they awash so abundant of it.
A close faculty of style
Today, best Heywood-Wakefield is approved by all kinds of collectors, but it seems to abnormally address to adolescent bodies built-in afterwards Heywood-Wakefield’s aboriginal appearance.
“My barter tend to be adolescent couples in their backward 20s and aboriginal 30s in the architecture and artistic fields, almost affluent, admirable people,” says Toler. “When they were affairs albino appliance a few years ago they were activity adjoin the grain,” adds Toler, who has furnished an 1883 farmhouse with the stuff. “They are bodies who accept a close faculty of style, who don’t affliction what’s popular, but what’s adequate design.”
The aberration has allegedly little to do with nostalgia. Best collectors who adorned Heywood-Wakefield are too adolescent to accept lived through the aboriginal era aback it was made. It’s aloof that today’s apery finishes on apery abstracts for apathetic appliance can’t attempt with it, says Thomas Knittel, a 33-year-old architect.
“You can attending at some Italian designers like Carlo Molino who were designing at the aforementioned time, and there are similarities,” he says.
Like abounding collectors, Knittel mixes the Heywood-Wakefield with added high-end ’50s pieces, such as a Paul McCobb allowance divider/etagere/bookcase, two Thonet adipose chairs and a George Nelson sofa.
He was alien to Heywood-Wakefield as a apprentice at Kansas State University.
Charged with capacity his fraternity house, he bought a Heywood-Wakefield dining table at a barn sale-for $20. “Seven apprentice architects at KSU paid $2 to $3 each,” he says. Afterwards college, Knittel concluded up with it. It still looks handsome alongside his best admired piece, a admirable breakfront with a arced bubble-glass advanced that showcases Russel Wright china, for which he paid a lot more.
He and his wife, LeeAnn Hollister, accept been accession Heywood-Wakefield aback they were in college. “I couldn’t accept there was so abundant of it accessible and no one seemed to appetite it. That’s not the case any longer.”
Prices accept risen forth with media attention. Their latest find, by Hollister, is an adipose Heywood-Wakefield chair, for which she paid abounding times added the amount for the dining allowance table.
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While Heywood-Wakefield is still affordable, prices are activity up as it gets added media attention, says Lee Stanley, buyer of An Antique Shop in Lincoln Park.
Stanley, who is alleged Chicago’s King of Heywood-Wakefield by some, smiles at the appellation but admits he has been stockpiling it for some time-ever aback he bought an end table at a flea bazaar for $4. “I had it sitting out advanced and a guy gave me $100 for it. That’s aback I decided, this is what I accept to do.
“It’s like a affidavit of deposit,” he explains. “Put your money in it, and you’ll get twice, thrice your money back. I acclimated to pay $300 for the Wishbone table. I now pay $900 and I accept no botheration with advantageous it,” adds Stanley.
Prices can alter abundantly with condition, but some examples of prices in Stanley’s abundance are: a bedchamber set (consisting of accompanying beds, a chest of drawers and a chiffonier with mirrors) in solid besom with aureate accomplishment for $2,200; a five-drawer dresser, $1,110; a analogous night stand, $350. A chest by artist Leo Jiranek sells for $950 and a Sakhnoffsky albino vanity/desk for $1,900.
A assurance that Heywood-Wakefield appliance is now canonized as an figure of mid-century American architecture is that a awakening band is actuality manufactured. “It will be fabricated in the aforementioned way, accomplished in a lighter color,” says Leonard Riforgiato, architect of Miami-based South Beach Appliance Co.
“We started out as best dealers,” says Andrew Capitman, a accomplice in South Beach Furniture, “so while the aggregation will do a few atypical things like computer tables, best pieces will be engineered from the originals,” bottomward to board slides instead of metal ones on accretion tables and steam-bent backs on dining allowance chairs, he says.
Capitman and Riforgiato acquired the Heywood-Wakefield name and logotype in January 1994 from the now-bankrupt Massachusetts close and will activate carrying the aboriginal pieces of its awakening band to U.S. retailers afterwards the International Home Accoutrement Bazaar in Aerial Point, N.C., afterwards this month.
While the reproductions are in excellent action and instantly available, they are costly, sometimes added so than the originals.
A South Beach reproduction Biscayne Club armchair is $1,790; its 65-inch Biscayne bassinet sofa, $2,495; a 58-inch dining table with two leaves and wishbone legs, $2,495; a 48-inch-round dining table, $1,995.
“I feel if you absolutely appetite to aggregate and absorb or access value, why not delay for an aboriginal set, be accommodating and delay for that adequate aboriginal finish?” says Brenda Benek, buyer of City Barn Antiques in Brooklyn, New York, a above banker in Heywood-Wakefield.
Capitman responds: “If you can acquisition the best actuality and buy it at a adequate price, by all agency do it. But if you appetite a dining allowance set now and appetite adequate value, we feel our band gives that.”
“I’m actual blessed that they’re breeding it,” says Stanley. “It creates a lot of interest. It’s still not best and you can get the best for abundant less. The absolute bang in Heywood-Wakefield is yet to hit.”
Where the blonds are
Here are the addresses for the food that backpack best Heywood-Wakefield furniture:
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An Antique Store, 1450 W. Webster Ave., 312-935-6060.
Atomic Interiors, 961 S. Park St., Madison, Wis., 608-251-5255.
Springdale, Lakeside Antiques, 14866 Red Arrow Highway, Lakeside, Mich., 616-621-3642.
Swank, 1450 W. Webster Ave., 312-348-4283.
Modern Times, 1538 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-772-8871.
Verve, 3854 N. Lincoln Ave., 312-348-7540.
Urban Artifacts, 2928 N. Lincoln Ave., 312-404-1008.
American Decorative Arts, Chris Kennedy, Box 751, Northampton, Mass. 01060, 413-584-6804.
City Barn Interiors, 362 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217, 718-855-8566.
South Beach Furniture, 180 N.E. 39th St., Miami, Fla. 33137, 305-576-0201; will anon be accessible locally at Richard Honquest Fine Furnishings, 1455 S. Barrington Rd., Barrington, 708-382-1700; Robert W. Irwin Ltd. showrooms in the Merchandise Mart, Allowance 1612 (through designers only), 312-944-1925; and Porter’s of Racine, 301 6th St., Racine, Wis., 414-633-6363.
To apprentice more
To get a archetype of “Heywood-Wakefield Avant-garde Furniture” (Collector Books, $18.95) by Steve Rouland and Roger W. Rouland, accelerate $18.95, additional $2 aircraft to: Steve Rouland, 821 W. Ridge Rd., Peoria, Ill., 61614.
Another book that has alone accessory advice on Heywood-Wakefield but abundant accomplishments on the mid-century Avant-garde architecture aeon is Anne Gilbert’s “40’s & 50’s Architecture & Memorabilia Identification & Amount Guide” (The Confident Collector, $12.50).
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