Armchairs by Adrian Pearsall

Armchairs by Adrian Pearsall

#8 of the 999 Armchairs Book is a difficult one. The 2 chairs displayed in the book I cannot find  easily on the internet. However I found 2 other armchairs, the above 2 blue ones via Chairish and the red one via 1stdibs.

Both Chairish and 1stdibs have a considerable number of chairs designed by Adrian Pearsall. Prior to this post we have only featured him twice despite a huge number of chairs and sofas designed by him. The reason is I don’t know what to do with him. I’m not very impressed by his designs with a few exceptions.

Chairish about Adrian Pearsall:


Adrian Pearsall designed vivacious, exuberant, and expressive American furniture in the 50s and 60s. Pearsall gave his pieces and imagination free-reign, creating an extremely flamboyant style that exemplifies the “Atomic Age.”

Adrian Pearsall was one of four children, born in 1925 in Trumansburg, NY, and raised almost exclusively by his stepmother. In 1942, a 17-year-old Pearsall enlisted in the US Navy and served in World War II. Following the war, he married Dorie Kanarr in 1950, the same year he graduated from the University of Illinois where he studied architectural engineering. He worked as an architect for two years before opening Craft Associates in 1952.

With the help of his wife, Pearsall started building modern, eclectic furniture in their home. The crafting was exclusively completed by Pearsall, and his wife handled orders and scheduling. They began selling these pieces from to Philadelphia and New York department stores like Macy’s.

Craft Associates continued on to be a top Wilkes Barre employer in the 1950’s and 1960’s, where the development of “Atomic Age” furniture came to its climax. His style brought character and interesting furniture to the general public, making it affordable for the majority of American people. Gondola sofas, intensely architectural dining chairs, flowing glass and wood side tables, and the often-debated bean bag chair all have Pearsall to thank—they exist because of his unbelievable creativity. Adrian Pearsall was nominated for the American Furniture Hall of Fame in 2008, a true testament to his design chops.

His background in engineering and love of structural design shows in his pieces. For example, a Pearsall Lounge Chair, with it’s tall, trapezoidal back that gives off a skyscraper vibe without being ostentatious. Similarly, Pearsall “gondola” sofas, which are low-slung, long pieces that rise up on the ends. Most of Pearsall’s pieces don’t have legs or feet, but are supported with arching wood skids. Pearsall’s tables are equally structural, with a heavy preference for glass and purposeful framing. Adrian Pearsall furniture has flair and style, and his work adds a vivacious element to any decor.

Pearsall launched a new company, Comfort Designs, in the mid-1970s with partner John Graham. Pearsall eventually left the furniture industry, and began seeking out new challenges, namely yacht restoration and sailing, until his death in 2011.


Adrian Pearsall furniture is remarkable and original—many have tried to grasp and produce a similar style, but he truly captured a distinct style that cannot be repeated. Pearsall’s influences included Vladimir Kagan, George Nakashima and Knoll. He added a confident flair of his own (inspired by his love of architectural details and flamboyant accents) by utilizing fabrics, materials, bold shapes and color combinations that had never before been seen in the mass market. Craft Associates went on to become one of America’s most prominent furniture designers during the mid-century.

If you’re looking for a chair or sofa, it’s helpful to know what to seek out. Adrian Pearsall furniture is in the quintessential mid-century modern style. New shapes, fabrics, and colors were being explored by designers all over the country, but none so impressive as Pearsall. Look for long, low-slung, “gondola” sofas with interesting support—either a pair of wooden skids, or impressive cross beams. Pearsall liked to offset the traditional styles seen in sofas at the time by swooping up the ends to form a slight bend and add some much-needed curves to an otherwise up-and-down room. Even sofas with straight backs and seats have interesting details, like a geometric back or a seat that’s wider than the back.

Chairs frequently offer more visual interest than their sofa counterparts. Whether it’s the materials (brushed brass, solid walnut, or interesting fabrics) or the shape, these pieces command attention in any room. Look for chairs that feature purposeful shaping, like the body of the chair thrown forward and offset by a tradition seat and back. Or barrel-backed chairs, with completely round seats and an ottoman with a matching cutout; these details are what separates Adrian Pearsall furniture from other styles or pieces made in a similar time.

The fabric and color usage is also important to note—from deep red plaids to baby blue, Pearsall wasn’t hesitant to use color in his furniture. Again, chairs and ottomans carry the most interesting colors and materials, while sofas are more “traditional,” if a stripped boomerang sofa can be considered traditional.

After Adrian left the furniture industry he devoted himself to yachting and rejuvination of old yachts.

Catalog and Heritage

The family, son and daughter, had a website where they displayed his catalog, but they took it offline because many people started to download items from the original catalogus and making replica’s.

Craft Associates was sold and subsequently closed after some time. However there is a new Craft Associates

The original Craft Associates, Inc. was a furniture company created in 1952 by Adrian Pearsall. The walnut designs started in the late 50’s skyrocketing sales and taking Mr. Pearsall beyond all others in residential design. The company grew from 6 to 800 employees and was sold in 1968 to the well-known Lane Furniture Company. Pearsall went on to form another company while Lane eventually halted production and sales by the late seventies and closed Craft Associates for good.

Recognizing desire for vintage Craft Associates furniture and a lack in the market of new, quality mid-century inspired designs; we sought to revive Craft Associates Furniture and did. That same year we began building the improved furniture in the United States with the intension of reflecting the spirit of the period while improving the functionality of the product.

Although visually rivaling great vintage designs, the construction, upholstery and quality of materials have been drastically altered.

Once the furniture met our approval, we sought to partner marketing and sales with whom has a rich history of serving Craft Associates, Inc. collectors. We are very excited to be in the position to offer you this incredible collection. Moving forward, Craft Associates® Furniture will continue to design and produce timeless objects of beauty which posses the uniqueness and character of vintage combined with the freshness of modern times. All of those who appreciate quality furniture will benefit from a resurrection of designs capturing the essence of the period.

Craft Associates Inc Legacy
The New Craft Associates® Furniture is not currently associated with the Pearsall family or Adrian Pearsall. Reference to either is intended to only communicate historical information identifying the factual history concerning the sale and closing of the designer’s company. Nor does the brief historical reference to the designer imply any current formal association with the family or their certification program for used furniture of their father’s design.

We respect the family’s efforts with their used furniture CERTIFICATION PROGRAM directed to the vintage used furniture market for their father’s designs. In our efforts to support the family, for any original Pearsall furniture we recondition we will either (i) compare the piece to our extensive catalog reference of his work to make a comparison of the piece with the known catalog of his works or (ii) will pay the $50.00 fee as required by the family’s CERTIFICATION PROGRAM.

While we are legitimate and proper in our moving forward under our new company name and revived Craft Associates trademark, we are also continuing to remain available to offer our support to the family in maintaining the integrity of the vintage furniture and historical legacy their father established with his designs.

It is a bit sad to see that by the sale of the company and subsequent closing of the business, the family has no grip anymore on the heritage and the models. Some chair designers like for instance Gerrit Rietveld have a foundation that exploits and markets the models and some grandchildren have again started to manufacture some models. In addition there are some big manufacturers like in Rietveld’s case Cassina and in Eames’ case Vitra who still produce successful items.

#8 of the 999 Armchairs Book


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