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Sam Maloof And His Influences


Beyond the scope of photography, painting, sculpture, and other “fine art” art, Pacific Standard Time is also capturing craftsmen who left a huge mark in craft making. As we mentioned previously, Golden State of Craft captured a very influential group of
makers who definitely were the DIY spark at the base of the blazing craft fire currently burning brightly. Sam Maloof was a person at the center of this and actually has two shows that celebrated his large mark in the world of craft (specifically, woodworking).

Maloof is a Southern California man who never considered himself an artist: just a humble woodworker. Maloof is known for being one of the biggest pioneers in the American studio craft movement, a movement dedicated to revolting from studio mass production. Maloof was recently the focus of Huntington Library’s recently closed The House That Sam Built and his foundation’s In Words And Wood, which places his among friends Bob Stocksdale and Ed Moulthrop. Like Ray and Charles Eames, he is a huge name in Southern California design (specifically furniture items) and is one of very few people in the many shows who is being celebrated in many, many galleries.

More than just shows that share his work, Maloof’s influence is everywhere as he is somewhat responsible for lots of modern seating, tableware, and other furniture coming from craftsmen now. His work in the late fifties through early eighties aligned almost perfectly with that of his likeminded, other-side-of-the-world Danish Modern counterparts, showing that finely shaping wood into elegant shelves and delicate chairs were not just objects for your house but art. Now, you see his influence from big furniture makers like Blu Dot and Room & Board all the way the hustling Rose Bowl Flea Market. New woodmen like Blair Sligar, Jason Lewis, Phloem Studio, LA Box Collective, Eastvold Furniture, Palo Samko, and even Eric Trine and the guys at RAD in Austin who are tying woods and metals together clearly carrying Maloof’s work beyond where he left it and into the future.

Be sure to check out Maloof’s work, which you can now see through the beginning of March at the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation in Alta Loma. And, next time you are out shopping for nice woody furniture for your home or apartment, remember that Mr. Maloof may have been the very inspiration.

Above: Upholstered, Double Flared-Back Occasional Chair with Sculptured Arms, Sam Maloof, 1958. Walnut and wool 39 1/2 x 27 1/4 x 27 in. Collection of the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts © The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

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