The 1188 Dining Chair is considered the favorite chair of its designer Milo Baughman. Given that Baughman was one of the most successful and well-known figures in 20th-century American furniture design, the 1188 chair is very special indeed.
The 1188 chair first came to the limelight in 1968 as the result of a highly successful and compelling collaboration that dates back to 1953 when Baughman met and worked with Thayer Coggin – a native of North Carolina who was looking for an innovative furniture designer and manufacturing operation . According to Dot Coggin, Thayer’s wife and spokeswoman for furniture company Thayer Coggin Inc., “Milo came here when the company was in the organizational stages. Thayer was looking for a designer and their relationship began with a handshake deal.” That handshake opened the floodgates for a collaboration that lasted five decades until Baughman’s death in 2003 and resulted in a multitude of amazing designs including the 1188 dining chair
“Furniture that is designed too obviously is very interesting, but too often it only belongs in museums.” This quote from Milo Baughman perfectly illustrates his approach to furniture design. In Baughman’s outstanding work, his great creativity has never compromised on functionality, instead achieving an ideal balance between modernity and modernity. His designs were inspired by the idea of creating timeless, universal objects that stand the test of time. The concept of making very simple and fully functional, yet elegant and stylish objects was part of the design of the 1188 Dining Chair from the very beginning. The chair should be accessible to the public both in terms of price and retail. Therefore, the chair is easy to manufacture and uses accessible materials.
The most striking part of the chair is its airy, delicate frame with a brushed bronze finish. The frame looks like a cuboid with one side missing. It consists of tubular steel profiles with a square cross-section. Individual parts are welded together, then the welds are ground and polished to keep the frame looking smooth and seamless. For extra stability, the legs are spanned at the bottom, giving the chair’s base its famous square U-shape. Both the seat shell and the backrest are screwed to the frame at a slight angle to improve seating comfort.
They are made from kiln dried maple and plywood cores layered with the foam and fiber cushions on top. The upholstered armrests with their cylindrical shape change the rather angular appearance of the 1188 Dining Chair. Although the chair was originally available in fabric, customers can now choose from a variety of fabrics and leathers to personalize this modern design classic. Even today, almost five decades after its presentation, when modernity is no longer an extravagant or radical concept, the 1188 Dining Chair has neither aged nor become banal. It still looks fresh and contemporary.
This quality of good design is particularly well exemplified by Baughman himself, who once said, “When I left the Art Center, I thought modern design was going to change the world.” I don’t have high hopes now, but maybe it will help the world just a little bit better. In any case, good modernism has already proven to be the most enduring, timeless and classic of all design directions. “