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Object Timeline

1943

  • Work on this object began.

1953

  • Work on this object ended.

2013

2014

2015

2018

  • You found it!

Chair (USA), ca. 1948

This is a chair. It was attributed to Henry Turchin and the design director was Louis Dierra and manufactured by Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. It is dated ca. 1948 and we acquired it in 2013. Its medium is slumped plate glass, metal, textile. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Six examples of this chair were set around a glass table in the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company's (PPG) model dining room featured at the 1939 New York World's Fair in The Glass Center's Glass in the Home exhibition. The chair is made of a slumped plate glass frame. The original seats, made of fiberglass, were a solid color, possibly white, cream, or another light shade. At least one other example of the chair (with stripe-patterned upholstery) was shown at in The Glass Center as part of a model bedroom in front of a dressing table.
The Great Depression forced many Americans to reimagine how they defined “luxury,” as exotic woods and expensive fabrics became unaffordable. Manufacturers like PPG responded by encouraging Americans to gradually accept new materials and technology into their homes. This new furniture eschewed ornamentation in favor of purely functional forms, as seen in this PPG chair. New forms and proportions also encouraged casual comfort in the home over formality and fussiness. PPG showed that it was possible to create simple, classical forms with more traditional materials (though not necessarily traditional to furniture design), bridging modernity to the past.
Due to the fragility of glass, the form proved unsuitable for production. Regardless, this chair remains significant as a piece of World's Fair material culture, as a demonstration of the hope and optimism in glass as a promising alternative material, and as a representation of the work of PPG, one of the most significant glass manufacturers in American history.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled The Miracle of Glass.

This object was purchased from Sotheby's and fund: General Acquisitions Endowment and purchased with funds from: George R. Kravis II. It is credited Museum purchase through gift of George R. Kravis II and from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.

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Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 71.8 x 54 x 56.5 cm (28 1/4 x 21 1/4 x 22 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Chair (USA), ca. 1948; Attributed to Henry Turchin (American, 1891 - 1967); slumped plate glass, metal, textile; H x W x D: 71.8 x 54 x 56.5 cm (28 1/4 x 21 1/4 x 22 1/4 in.); Museum purchase through gift of George R. Kravis II and from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2013-1-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Making Design.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35520577/ |title=Chair (USA), ca. 1948 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=18 August 2018 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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