Dan Johnson / Selig
The chairs and table were designed by Dan Johnson.
Maynard L. Parker, photographer. Courtesy of The Huntington Library
Ad from 1951 showing the Dan Johnson-designed chair.
Source: LA Times, 1951
leslie's, which was located in the Wilshire Center/Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, advertised a variety of Johnson's early pieces. Many were designed exclusively for leslie's.
Source: LA Times, 1951
1954 ad in a trade magazine with the best name, Metal Furniture. It's introducing a new lounge chair, by Selig. There is no mention of the designer. This is where things start to get dicey. This is obviously the 1951 Dan Johnson chair with wood arms instead of brass ball caps. Selig also didn't credit him in their own advertising.
Source: Andy Hackman (A legend in California Modern)
Recently, some people have been claiming that Lawrence Peabody designed the chair for Selig.
Source: The Gazette and Daily, 1955
The confusion might have come from the ad stating "Designs by Lawrence Peabody." First, that statement is ambiguous. It does include designs by him, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are all Peabody designs. Second, we know that Dan Johnson actually designed the chair years before Selig came into the picture.
As seen in this Selig ad, Johnson is not given credit for "F" or what Selig calls the WR1.
January 1955 ad for a three leg Dan Johnson dining chair
Source: LA Times
(Thanks to Trystcraft for making me aware of this)
Interiors, October 1955, a Selig press release states "Daniel Johnson has been retained as designer by Selig... left for a three month sojourn in Italy where he will design a new group of sofas, sectionals, and chairs for Selig."
While in Italy and after completing an apartment design commission in Rome, he starts to work on prototypes for the Gazelle line. They would be for his soon-to-be-launched company, Dan Johnson Studio.
Image: A Handbook of California Design, 1930–1965: Craftspeople, Designers, Manufacturers
Back in the USA, Selig announces that Johnson has contributed designs to Selig, including a description of the Viscount chair.
Source: The Arizona Republic, 1956
Whether it's a mistake or something Selig did on purpose, the Viscount chair is credited to Kofod-Larsen in Modern Furnishing for the Home, Volume 2 (1956). There are a few errors in this volume, so it being a mistake is plausible.
Although on top of the Kofod-Larsen credit, they advertised it as Danish.
Source: The Evening Sun, 1957
I realize Selig was producing some furniture in Denmark, but they also named the chair after a rank of European royalty.
Source: Ithica Journal, 1957
Towards the end of the 1950s, Selig did start to credit Dan Johnson with the chair, as evident from this page out of their catalog. If you read the lawsuit below, the timing corresponds with Mendell Selig being in and out of the picture. It's also when Johnson was living in Italy, so he could have either not been aware of what Selig was doing with his designs or was unable to do anything about it. This is speculation, of course.
We know the following:
- Dan Johnson designed the chairs that the Selig WR1 and Viscount models were based on. This took place well after the chairs were being sold by leslie's in Los Angeles.
- Through published Selig press releases, it is established the company was working with Dan Johnson during this period. We also know they weren't crediting him with the designs from roughly 1954 to 1958.
- Selig eventually credited Johnson for the Viscount chair.
- I should probably be working on so many other things instead of spending my time on this.
Image: Design Addict
MENDELL M. SELIG vs. SAMUEL H. WEXLER & others.
355 Mass. 671
Selig started a furniture business in 1931 in the city of Gardner. Shortly thereafter Wexler joined him as a partner. In 1933, the business, which is now known as the Selig Manufacturing Company, Inc. (Company), was incorporated. Selig and Wexler each received 50% of the capital stock. The Company has never declared any dividends, and thus the income derived by Selig and Wexler has been in the form of compensation for services rendered.
Selig, who became the Company's treasurer, originally had general charge of manufacturing and finances. Wexler became the president, with general charge of design and sales. Selig, Wexler, and the defendant Mr. Riemer, an attorney, were the directors of the Company. Between 1950 and 1955 heated and acrimonious disputes occurred between Selig and Wexler concerning the operations of the Company. In the summer of 1955 Selig, Wexler, and Mr. Riemer entered into a voting trust agreement with a term of ten years. Mr. Riemer was intended to be a neutral or independent trustee.
Selig suffered severe injuries to his neck in the fall of 1956, which incapacitated him until late 1958. During this period Wexler and his son Robert took over Selig's duties. Thereafter Selig wished to resume his former duties, but his request was voted down by Wexler and Riemer. By this time the Company had manufacturing plants located in Leominster, Massachusetts, Monroe, Louisiana, and Siler City, North Carolina, and had acquired an interest in a plant in Ontario, Canada. Selig was put in charge of the Canadian operation and of a new line of activity called the contract business, which involved sales directly to colleges and other institutions. The contract business, which Selig built into a significant part of the Company's operations, has shown steady growth. At the time of the trial certain other portions of the business, which previously had shown considerable growth and profits, were in decline.