Broyhill Premier Saga

2016: Top Mid-Century Modern Style Posts

2016: Top Mid-Century Modern Style Posts

Take a look at the top 5 posts I wrote in 2016. They all deal with Mid-Century Modern style. Not a stunning surprise.

When David and I started Iris Abbey, we planned to paint and sell furniture . Our work, though beautiful, didn’t sell. We developed a belief that our local market is pretty saturated.

Our son, Michael, directed our focus to Mid-Century Modern and we haven’t looked back.

Every so often I sneak a painted piece into our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery, but the majority of what we sell is Mid-Century Modern, as you’ll see from these posts.

Cara Greenberg coined the term Mid-Century Modern in her 1984 book by the same eponymous name. This Christmas, Aunt Linda gave Michael a signed, first-edition copy of Greenberg’s Mid-Century Modern.

In furniture, modern came in all price brackets. Those who could afford it filled architect-designed homes with furniture from smart department stores which, in those days, promoted furniture even more vigorously than fashion. A sophisticated home of the early Fifties might have featured, for example, a pair of Eero Saarinen’s all-enveloping Womb chairs in bright red, or had as its pièce de résistance the free-form walnut-and-glass coffee table of Isamu Noguchi, its sculptured two-part base subject to rearrangement at its owner’s whim. — Cara Greenberg, Mid-Century Modern, 1984

1. 5 Characteristics of Mid-Century Modern Furniture

Mid-Century Modern Living Room
Source: Chris Barrett Design

The best of it was designed by architects who, during the war, when nobody was building houses, had turned their talents to furniture–or who, in desperation for furnishings that made sense in the smaller, sparer postwar house, decided to design their own.  — Cara Greenberg, Mid-Century Modern, 1984

Step into 1956 and see . . .

2. Kent-Coffey’s Sequence Collection 
Kent Coffee Sequence bedroom furniture

3. Painted Smooth Finish on MCM Furniture

Sometimes, because the damage is too great or the piece isn’t significant, we opt to paint. With Mid-Century Modern pieces we’re judicious with how much we paint. Take a look at these two pieces:
Mid-Century Modern Dixie chest and nightstand

4. Clothes Press by White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC

White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC, is a furniture company close to my heart. I’ve written about them in other posts, but here’s an unusual clothes press:

How Much is My White Fine Furniture Worth?

5. Broyhill Premier Saga Desk Meets Heywood-Wakefield Chair

We found a Mid-Century desk, stylish and curved. Alas, no chair. What are the odds that we’d find a single — not part of a set — Heywood-Wakefield chair? It’s not a perfect match, but close enough to convey the spirit of the times, especially with the period upholstery fabric we ordered.

Broyhill Premier Saga Desk

That’s it for 2016. Next week I’ll share my top posts of all time.

Ann Marie and David

Broyhill Premier Saga Desk Meets Heywood-Wakefield Chair

Our son Michael found this elusive Broyhill Premier Saga desk on Craigslist and dispatched David and me to buy it. I love the way it curves in the front.

Broyhill Premier gave this description of its Saga Collection:

Mad for modern? Have your heart’s desire with SAGA by Broyhill Premier. . . SAGA is a fresh twist to the Scandinavian furniture story . . . vigorous in design and striking in simplicity. Skillfully proportioned for today’s room sizes in warm, beautifully grained Walnut.

Broyhill Premier Saga Desk

In 1957, to provide sophistication, style, and quality to their growing customer base, Broyhill Furniture established its Broyhill Premier line at the old Lenoir Chair Company plant in North Carolina. They added a sales force and a quality control program. And then they developed ad campaigns.

I found an example of one of their campaigns from 1960, when Broyhill Premier and Air France cosponsored an Abroad at Home contest. How sophisticated.

Broyhill Premier and Air France AdThe rules were simple:

Join in the fun . . . enter the “Abroad at Home” contest!

THREE FIRST PRIZES . . . 14 EXCITING DAYS FOR TWO TO PARIS, ROME OR SCANDINAVIA

Think of it . . . winging your way luxuriously across the Atlantic aboard a new AIR FRANCE Boeing 707 jet . . . off on a European holiday with all of your expenses taken care of by Broyhill Premier.

Here’s how it can be you . . . living it up for 12 wonderful days in your choice of Paris, Rome or Scandinavia.

First . . . visit your local franchised Broyhill Premier furniture dealer or AIR FRANCE ticket office for an official “Abroad AT Home” Contest entry form. A quick call to Western Union Operator 25 will give you the name of your nearest Broyhill Premier dealer.

Now . . . choose where you want most to visit . . . Paris, Rome or Scandinavia. Then, finish in 50 words or less this sentence:

“I would like to take my husband (or wife) to (Paris)(Rome)(Scandinavia) because. . .”

Let’s pause a moment in the excitement of this contest to study a full-page advertisement for the Saga collection and read its thrilling caption:

Broyhill Premier Saga Ad
Framed amid windswept crags and fjords, Saga adds a new chapter to the century-long story of fresh and vigorous Scandinavian design. See the beauties of Scandinavia for yourself as a winner in the “Abroad At Home” Contest. But, first, see the new Saga collection at your Broyhill Premier dealer’s . . . forty pieces sculptured in hand-rubbed walnut . . . priced from $39.95.

Now, on to the remaining rules:

Then mail, with your name and address to:
“Abroad At Home” Contest
Box 33-B, Mt. Vernon 10, New York

Your entry must be postmarked no later than midnight, September 15, 1960 and becomes the property of Broyhill Furniture Factories. Winners will be notified by mail on October 15, 1960 with the judges’ decision accepted as final.

Three first prizes will be awarded . . . one for each of the three new Broyhill Premier furniture collections. For TRIANON, 14 days for two to Paris. For INVITATION CLASSIC, 14 days for two to Rome. And for SAGA, 14 days for two to Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Oslo. With all expenses paid.

As a winner . . .you will fly from your home to New York on one of the country’s leading scheduled airlines. From New York, you will fly to your destination in Europe, Economy Class, aboard a new AIR FRANCE jet. And l’economique est tres chic when you fly on the world’s largest airline.

At your destination, you will be transferred to your hotel, first class of course. There you will partake of everything for which your favorite city is so famous. You will go sightseeing, dine in the finest restaurants, dance at the top nightclubs, have ample time to explore on your own and for shipping. All of your expenses, with the exception of those of a personal nature will be paid for . . . every arrangement taken care of by experienced travel personnel.

This is such a magical contest; I love the linking of international travel with furniture. But let’s head back to our Iris Abbey escapades.

David cleaned up the Premier Saga desk and Michael hunted for a chair. First, David filled the chipped veneer on the left side of the desk top with Timber Mate Wood-filler Walnut. He then used Watco Danish Oil Medium Walnut to bring back the rich depth of the original Broyhill finish.

Michael came up with a chair that looked a close match. Heywood-Wakefield manufactured this dining chair in 1954-55 in two finishes, Champagne and Wheat. This chair is Wheat. While not the exact shade of the Broyhill Saga Premier Saga Desk, the Heywood-Wakefield M 953 chair is just a few tones away and makes an elegant pairing. It has a bow tie back, which seems perfect for the gentle curve in the desk.

The fabric, however, looked a bit sad. We pulled some vintage fabric and gave this girl a facelift. Here’s her Before shot:

Heywood-Wakefield Dining Chair

And After:

Heywood-Wakefield chair recovered

We’re selling the desk and chair as a set in our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery. The combination of these two utilitarian pieces, from quintessential American manufacturers of MCM furniture, creates a unique pairing: a Broyhill Premier Saga Desk and a Heywood-Wakefield M 953 Bow Tie Chair.

The serendipitous mating of these pieces embodies the best of American furniture manufacturers’ foray into Danish design that resulted in what we call Mid-Century Modern furniture. Styling, simple elegance of line, and solid wood. No particle board.

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Ann Marie and David

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