Steelcase. The Genius of Warren Snodgrass.
Learning and discover new things is thrilling. Recently I had an experience that although cool and fortunate at first, only got better. It went like this.
I recently came across a reasonably priced pair of Steelcase guest chairs designed by Warren Snodgrass. I have a knack for discovering hidden gems, and these immediately caught my attention. Simply put, they are a work of art. The blue fabric in the pictures I've posted didn't come out as well as I hoped, as the true color is a brilliant and vibrant blue, in a tightly woven fabric that appears brand new. In researching these beauties, I initially found them featured in a November 2007 Steelcase publication entitled "Wood Seating Specification Guide PDF" (page 73). In this publication I discovered the model was 474419W and part of the Encore Series of guest seating, with a U.S. base price of $962. Awesome! I also learned that they were designed in 1980, and found the tag underneath the chair which said these particular chairs were made in 1994.
With further research I discovered more about Warren Snodgrass. Having lived and worked as an art director in Grand Rapids Michigan for several years, I had significant exposure to the contract furnishing marketplace and I had heard of Warren. Not only has he designed products for Steelcase, but also for Haworth, Thonet and Stow Davis. As I researched further, I discovered Warren's personal webpage. As it turns out, he is spending his time with his lifelong passion for painting and sculpture in his art studio located in Ross CA. His studio looks incredible. Sounds idyllic. So with a desire to know more, I emailed Warren directly and asked him if he would be willing to shed any further light on these remarkable chairs. He was kind enough to respond. This is what he said in an email I received this evening:
Dear Barry– "We designed the chairs for Steelcase in 1980. It is nice to know they are still appreciated after 28 years. Our goal was to design a chair with clean classic lines that would stand the test of time. The frame was designed to be configured from a single piece of elliptical oval steel tubing which made it economical to produce without sacrificing esthetics. The chairs surround the conference table in my study and the poker table in my den. In addition they are part of the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art." – Yours truly, Warren Snodgrass
Thank you Warren for your transparency, and your willingness to share this first hand experience in creating these wonderful chairs. I especially appreciate your sensitivity to the balance between beauty and economy.
You know how when you or someone you know gets a new car, you start to notice similar ones from that point on? I'm sure this is what will happen to me as I begin to recognize and appreciate the incredible design of Warren Snodgrass. I am a big fan.
Labels: 474419W, design classics, Grand Rapids, Haworth, Michigan, Product Design, Ross CA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Snodgrass Encore 474 Chair, Steelcase, Stow Davis, Thonet, Warren Snodgrass