MILO BAUGHMAN, THE MODERNITY SPEARHEAD
Born in Goodland, Kansas, on October 7, 1923, Milo Ray Baughman, Jr., was a modern furniture designer. His designs were impressive, modern, and sleek, and he quickly became a well-known name because of the affordable and surprisingly unpretentious design. Starting at just 13, Milo began designing both homes and furniture. Unceasingly investing in his creative process, he continued to design offer’s clubs in the Army Air Forces after high school. After World War II, he returned to Southern California to study architectural design at the Art Center School of Los Angeles and at Chouinard Art Institute (now called the California Institute of the Arts).
After finishing his studies, Milo went on to work as both an interior and custom furniture designer for the reputable Frank Brothers. The furniture store, the first west coast styled all-modern specialty one, became his career’s launch. He left the Frank Brothers in late 1940s and established Milo Baughman Design Inc., where he created commissions for Glenn of California and Pacific Iron. His designs and furniture savvy placed both companies on the map, so to speak, in the design world. In 1948, his incredible collection, the “California Modern,” was created for Glenn of California in collaboration Greta Magnusson-Grossman. The collection was created in a classic California--and furthermore, a Los Angeles—style, featuring wood, mixed metals, and innovative use of formica.
After the California Modern debut, Drexel—one of the largest furniture manufacturers of the day--invited Milo to join them at their headquarters in North Carolina. Around this same time, another furniture company, Murray Furniture of Winchendon, Massachusetts, introduced "The Milo Baughman Collection.” A desk design from that collection was included in the Whitney Museum exhibition "High Styles: Twentieth Century American Design,” exemplifying and preserving Milo’s contributions to the design world. Milo and his then-wife, Olga Lee, produced custom furniture at their design shop in Los Angeles during this time as well. Milo’s furniture designs were complemented by Lee’s hand both impressive and sometimes delicate accents like hand-painted fabrics. Both worked tirelessly as interior design consultants. Their showroom remained open only for a few years between 1951 and 1953, until Milo’s collaborations with Thayer Coggin Inc., started.
The 50-year association with Thayer started with a handshake and blossomed into a furniture and design success story. During these years, Milo created a number of his most sought after pieces, including the "951-103" chair and the "955-304" sofa. His designs were eagerly awaited at the High Point Market, and he quickly gained notoriety and reverence in the design community.
VINTAGE MILO BAUGHMAN FURNITURE
Vintage Milo Baughman furniture is frequently studied and imitated, but no designers since have reached the effortlessly cool and both understated and impressive vibe that Baughman’s pieces give off. They feature an impressive understanding of style, complementary shapes, and the important role of texture and textiles. If you’re on the hunt for an original Milo Baughman piece, it’s important to keep a few of his consistencies in mind--knowing exactly what you’re looking for can help you narrow down your search.
In a very modern, California style, Baughman furniture features impressive textiles and materials. Some common options are velvet, silk, and thick, full-grain leather. The colors vary wildly, from deep brown to punchy orange or bright yellow. Designed to fit with more modern homes, the upholstery is typically tufted, giving a classic, timeless look.
Wood is frequently lacquered, giving an impressive sheen and offsetting the more subdued and clean shapes. Again, look for bright colors!
Legs and bases are typically metal—think chromium and bronze—but if they are wood, look for impressive grain like walnut. Metal and wood alike are polished to a bright sheen.
Used Milo Baughman furniture is easy to spot—look for a classic piece with one purposeful shift. Whether it’s a floating dining chair (the back is slightly tilted to seem unbalanced) or a delightfully round set of armchairs, there’s always something distinct about a Baughman piece. The architectural elements are intentional and add incredible interest without being overbearing to the piece. Most are designed with a sense of airiness, of lightness. The legs and arms of chairs are intentionally thin and sculpted, utilizing negative space. Alternatively, look for antique Milo Baughman furniture that brings some weight to the room--hefty, rounded chairs with bulky feet that disappear under mounded upholstery.
If you’re ready to find the vintage Milo Baughman furniture of your dreams without spending endless hours and money before even placing an offer, turn to Chairish! We curate the best pieces from all around the world, ensuring that you’ll find the perfect chair, table, or ottoman for your space without ever leaving your chair. On the hunt for something specific that you just can’t seem to find? Let us know! We love a good hunt and can’t wait to help you find your new favorite sitting chair, dining room table, or writing desk.