Monday, February 1, 2010

The Blond and Modern Furniture of Heywood-Wakefield!

We’ve covered a number of contemporary and past designer influences on Swank Lighting in previous posts, only a few times bringing you posts about furniture companies, like Lane Furniture Company or manufacturing companies, like Marbro Lamp Company. We’ve got another furniture company today, the Heywood-Wakefield Company, whose furnishings aren’t just highly recognizable, but also highly sought after!

It’s not hard to spot a Heywood-Wakefield: they have a very specific aesthetic. Known primarily for the use of blond-colored wood, you can also count on sleek lines, subtle curves and modern details as a good signifier that you’re looking at a Heywood-Wakefield piece. Considered by some to be one of the companies that helped bring modern design to homes, their pieces are high-quality, and fit in quite nicely when a number of other modern styles. Vintage Heywood-Wakefield pieces are prized today for their aesthetics, quality and reasonable price points.

Heywood-Wakefield started back in 1826 by a group of five brothers from Gardner, Massachusetts. These five brothers began by creating simple---though perhaps not very stylish---chairs from a barn. Their simple chair business gained success quickly, and they were able to acquire a partnership with another furniture manufacturer of the time: the Wakefield Rattan Company, run by Cyrus Wakefield. Soon, the new combined company went under the title “Heywood-Wakefield.”

Though by the early 1930s the company was hugely popular, they weren’t yet known for their fabulous modern designs. That didn’t take place until they began to enlist the help of talented designers, like Russel Wright, Gilbert Rhode, W. Joseph Carr and Alexis J. Saknoffsky. Together, this group of designers came up with and began to design furniture with Heywood-Wakefield’s well-known solid birch style, which was known as “The Heywood-Wakefield Modern Line.” Other lines like Sculptura, Crescendo and Kohinoor soon followed, and American fell in love with this style of furniture.

Unfortunately, like many other modern furniture companies, Heywood-Wakefield’s reign as a top manufacturer only lasted for thirty or so years, but their furniture is still sought after today, and some pieces can even still be found at reasonable prices. Check out vintage furniture stores, Craigslist or great online sites like 1stdibs for Heywood-Wakefield piece of your own!

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