MILO BAUGHMAN, THE MODERNITY SPEARHEAD
Wild for Milo? With his taste for cool, swanky shapes and glamorous finishes like brass and burl, it’s hard not to be! Born in Kansas and raised in Long Beach, California, Milo’s knack for design surfaced early on. In fact, Milo’s parents actually let 13-year-old Milo take the reins when it came to designing the interior and exterior of their So. Cal home! During WWII, Milo joined the Army Air Forces. Vetting his design chops yet again, Milo was tasked with designing the officer’s club lounges.
After being discharged, Milo attended art school in California. Soon after landed a job at the much-loved Frank Brothers. Frank Brothers, who touted themselves as the West Coast ‘s first one-stop modern specialty shop, helped to mint Milo as a legitimate designer. In turn it became a launching pad for Milo’s first furniture shop, Milo Baughman Design Inc.. From 1951 to 1953, Milo ran the La Cienga shop with his wife, Olga Lee. Olga contributed wallpaper, fabric, lamp and accessory designs to the store, while Milo spearheaded furniture designs. In addition to creating for the store, Milo also executed commissions for Glenn of California and Pacific Iron. Among his most iconic commissions was the “California Modern” line he developed for Glenn of California in collaboration with Swedish designer Greta Magnusson-Grossman. Combining wood, metal, and Formica, the line captured the easy-living essence of Mid-Century California.
Following the success of the California Modern collection, Murray Furniture located in Winchendon, Massachusetts asked Milo to partner with them, as did Drexel. Milo developed iconic pieces for both brands, utilizing an array of woods and modern, aerodynamic shapes. Not long after, another North Carolina giant, Thayer Coggin, came knocking. In a move that’s now considered design folklore, Thayer Coggin and Milo shook hands to lock in a legendary 50-year design partnership. During his years with Thayer Coggin, Milo forever changed the design landscape with fashion-forward designs that ingeniously blended chrome, glass, leather, wood, and brass. His designs fast gained traction with the public, both thanks to their design prowess and affordability.
VINTAGE MILO BAUGHMAN FURNITURE
For those thinking about dipping a toe in the world of vintage or used Milo Baughman furniture, there’s a lot to consider. Vintage Milo Baughman furniture designs are varied (see all those partnerships mentioned above!) and many Milo Baughman chairs and Milo Baughman sofas have been rehabbed over the years, adding questions to the authenticity factor. To give you a leg up, we’re breaking down some of Milo’s signature design moves and outlining the collaborations which showcase them best!
If there’s one silhouette that’s textbook Milo it’s the Parsons style. Those looking for Milo Baughman chairs and Milo Baughman tables will be greeted by dozens of examples of the Parsons style, as the style was in Milo’s rotation as early as his Drexel days. Consisting of tables and chairs with boxy forms and legs that are flush with the corners, Milo Baughman Parsons chairs and Milo Baughman Parsons tables are the ultimate never-goes-out-of-style piece. In addition to making fully upholstered chairs in the style, Milo often created Parsons pieces out of chrome and burl wood. He was also known to attach castors to some of his Parsons chairs, adding a unique touch of novelty.
If you’re on the prowl for a Milo Baughman sofa, a sectional is likely your best bet. Milo Baughman designed dozens of sectionals for Thayer Coggin during his tenure, with styles ranging from boxy and standard to sexy and serpentine. Among the most famous Milo Baughman sectionals are the “Design Classic 825 Sectional”—a sectional that essentially forms a half-circle— and the “Anna Conda,” which is a slinky, curving sofa formed by connected slipper chairs. While mechanically similar Desede’s famous “Nonstop” sofa, Milo’s "Anna Conda" sofa feels a touch more accessible than the haute couture-level “Nonstop.” Although not necessarily true today, early Milo Baughman sofas originally carried wallet-friendly price tags, making them accessible to a wide variety of décor enthusiasts.
Milo loved chrome and you’ll often see it used to create box-like bases on Milo Baughman credenzas and Milo Baughman coffee tables. However, it’s Milo Baughman dining chairs that perhaps most routinely feature chrome. Milo Baughman chrome chairs come in a wide variety of styles, but most often feature an upholstered back and seat set atop slender legs made of chrome. Milo also experimented with bent chrome. Examples include his bucket-style accent chairs and bar stools, as well as large etageres which he designed for the Design Institute of America among other makers. The chrome credenzas, which are often considered a hallmark of the Hollywood Regency style, are now among some of Milo Baughman’s most sought-after pieces.
Milo Baughman might not be as well known for his wood furniture as he is for his chrome and upholstered furniture, but he actually created many iconic wood pieces for makers like Glenn of California and Drexel early in his career. Since the majority of Milo Baughman wood furniture was created prior to the 1970s, it’s common to see echoes of both Regency and Danish design in these Milo Baughman dining tables and Milo Baughman desks. As Milo progressed in his career, his use of wood became less common, although he did have a special spot for burl wood. The highly decorative wood, which features varying striations, became a staple for Milo Baughman coffee tables and Milo Baughman coffee tables designed for Thayer Coggin throughout the 60s and 70s.