Warren McArthur

McArthursofa.bmpDesigner We Love: Warren McArthur Jr.

Quotable Quote: ". . . the reward of something rare and special—like a vintage Warren McArthur chair" (Michael Webb, Architectural Digest, April 2001)


Born in 1885 and grew up in Chicago, IL

Well-to-do upbringing, with dad hiring Frank Lloyd Wright to design their family home in 1892 (one of Wright's earliest commissions, before he struck out on his own)

Studied mechanical engineering and graduated from Cornell in 1908

mcarthurlounge%20chair.jpgDesigned lamps from 1911 to 1914 for a lantern company that his father headed up sales for; had various jobs and lots of support from his father to design and produce patents (had 10 patented lamp designs)

Moved to Phoenix, AZ to work with his brother Charles

Started 12 car dealerships and developed an adapter for car radiators to prevent overheating in desert climate

He and Charles created the "Wonder Bus," considered an early recreational vehicle, to promote tourism and visiting National Parks via the new U.S. highway system

Warren and Charles started the first AZ radio station, founded the Arizona Museum, and worked on the Arizona Biltmore resort which was designed by Arthur, their older brother

With his father's financial backing, made a 1929 move to LA to start a metal furniture business, with focus on aluminum and special ways to join standard metal pieces together

AuctionWatch10-17-2000-11-43-39Image1.gifDeveloped a process to make aluminum hard, impossible to tarnish -- backed by a lifetime guarantee

Developed a coloring process, adding color into the porous aluminum, then sealing it in as part of the metal versus an outer coating (see his Rainbow Chair, photo just below)

Warren McArthur Corporation's curvy Art Deco furniture became a huge hit with film stars, and waves of furniture showed up in movies, in theaters, hotels, and residential design projects

His refined metal curves helped popularize the streamlining and Moderne style

Designed bomber aircraft seating during World War II

Beset with financial woes after his father died, McArthur moved to Rome, New York in 1933 to manufacture his lines, with over 600 exclusive designs

His company closed its doors in 1948 and McArthur died in 1961

47_obv.jpgWhat We Love

We're intrigued by his father's constant financial support of his son's early career pursuits, and wish all parents were as supportive of their children's artistic and design sensibilities and projects

His pioneering spirit and devotion to technology and design innovation -- from a mechanical engineering background and fascination with the car (his family was one of the first to own a car in Chicago), he kept innovating away

McArthur's sense of color, producing cool tones of aluminum with great names like Grenadine, Alice Blue, and Golf Green, then pairing them with upholstered fabrics that featured contrasting colors like red and canary yellow or red and ebony

His design chic defined glamorous Hollywood of the 1930s

Thank this man for the outdoors chaise lounge, which he called "dripping chairs that would stand the test of sun and rain"

We love his folding chairs!

Warren McArthur Sampler










Photo Credits: Antiques and the Arts, DesignGallery, Carnegie Museum of Art, Washington Post, Reside, Rago Arts, Philips de Pury & Co., artnet