Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Artisan Group

This week I sold the old Italianate Couch that was sitting in the family room and went to pick up a couple of Thonet Lounge chairs I found on craigslist. Pulling up to the house south of San Francisco I immediately was greeted by a team of pickers who for the next 2 hours shared with me stories of their adventures around the Bay Area hunting mid century furniture. During this time they shared with me the many object de'art they had procured and were looking to offload and nothing really caught my eye until I asked about a surfboard table - yep, a Basset was in the garage and I could have it with a matching side table. I did not know anything about the Bassett company but the tables were in reasonable shape and affirmed their Danish influence with delicate legs and inspired rolled edges. We quickly worked out the details which included a future Pinot Flight wine tasting up at the house.

We loaded the 2 lounge chairs and the tables into the bed of Old Blue and as soon as I got home I looked up The Bassett Furniture Company and found they sold a wide range of furniture throughout the last century and the tables I had bought were from the Artisan Group, their take on the danish craze that was popular at the time. Designed by Leo Jiranek, a furniture and interior designer born in Grand Rapids, Mich.in 1900, and graduated from Princeton University. Jiranek had designed lines for the better part of the 20th century for most of the popular US furniture manufacturers at one time or another. Considered by some to be the "Dean of Furniture Designers," he was one of the Industry's first, and completely committed freelancers, who enjoyed a 67 year career working for such companies as Thomasville, Ethan Allen, Kroehler, Heywood-Wakefield Company, The Lane Co., Bassett, Broyhill and Garrison.

It was from ad's published in the early 1960's we find that the Artisan Group was finished with Oil Stained Walnut and Dupont Dulux Satin Sheen Varnish. 

LIFE magazine advertisement April 7, 1961

We are asked to consider the lines "oil walnut finish and unique rolled edges of solid wood" and then look at the price of $19.95 - $69.95". Unlike the similar Conant Ball table these rolled edges taper flat near the ends .. nice!

I'm particularly taken with the cat enjoying itself under the side table in the ad! The Artisan side table I found is exactly as is shown in the pictures, however, the coffee table is different. It has similar part numbers and the same Bassett Furniture Industries brand on the bottom even the same upturned 'rolled' edges but the table is longer, shorter and does not have the magazine rack under the table top. I have seen others like this at Etsy and 1stDibs and all attribute to the Bassett Artisan Group but I have not found any Ad's or references to the version without the magazine rack in Bassett literature. 

Artisan Ad 1964

My version of the coffee table

1 comment:

  1. I have the same coffee table you do! Did you ever find out what brand it is?