Baughman was born in Kansas in 1923, but moved with his family to Long Beach, California not long after. While many designers first start their design careers by attending school, Baughman’s design origin was a bit more unusual. When he was thirteen, his family built a new house, and he was presented with the daunting job of designing the exterior and interior! Obviously enjoying the task, he discovered his unique passions and talents at design. Even while later enlisting and serving in the army, Baughman found a way to incorporate design, often charged with decorating officer’s clubs. After the army, Baughman finally decided to get a formal education and enrolled in the California Institute of the Arts in product and architectural design.
His first official design job was as an interior designer and custom furniture designer for a store called Frank Brothers Furniture. He quickly got noticed for his brilliant modern creations, and the store soon became famous for its modern offerings. Also soon after graduation, he started a publication with a fellow designer, Georgia Christensen, called “Furniture Forum”. In 1947, after already achieving much, he decided to strike out on his own with Milo Baughman Design Inc.
Almost right off the bat, Baughman started working with other furniture manufacturers on designs, like Glenn of California and Pacific Iron, both prominent companies of that era. Soon Baughman would be collaborating with many other famous furniture companies like Mode Furniture, Calif-Asia, Murray Furniture of Winchendon, Woodard, Arch Gordon, George Kovacs, Directional, The Inco Company, and Henredon and Drexel.
In 1953, he began his most important and long lasting (50 years) collaboration with the company Thayer Coggin Inc., who are still in business today. Though he made many high-quality designs for Thayer Coggin some of his most recognizable are 1962’s 951-103 chair, the 820-400 chaise from 1954, the 989-103 Lounge Chair, and 955-304 Sofa.
While he often worked with walnut, iron and Formica materials, his furniture designs are varied and not easily categorized. Baughman often said that “furniture that is too obviously designed is very interesting, but too often belongs only in museums.” He aimed to create good, quality designs that could be enjoyed by a wide range of tastes. Seeing as his designs are still popular today, it would seem he succeeded.