The woodworker and furniture designer Sam Maloof was an American original and a lifelong Southern Californian, born in the Inland Empire. His furniture designs appear in the Smithsonian and in collections around the world. I recently visited his art-filled home and woodworking shops in Alta Loma. Also worthwhile: a museum, bookstore, conservation facility and gardens.
Maloof’s furniture, like the man, expressed a controlled sense of free energy. Rather than drawing up plans, he fed wood directly into a bandsaw, cutting pieces freehand. He then flopped the piece and quickly drew around it to create the matching component.
Did he have a style? I looked at two chairs, side-by-side, in his home. One was decades old, from early in his career. The other one he produced much later, in the 1990’s. The first had the sleek midcentury look of Danish Modern. The second chair had a modern feeling, but with a fluid, organic look. It was pure Sam Maloof. He had transcended style.