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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Furniture Men

Furniture Men

GRHC - November 4th, 2009

Grand Rapids Historical Commission and the Community Media Center present "Glance at the Past". Today meet Grand Rapids' own Furniture Hall of Famers!



Considering the importance of the furniture industry to Grand Rapids is should come as no surprise that four of its designers are in the American Furniture Hall of Fame.

David W. Kendall born 1851, is the Dean of American Furniture Designers. He had a direct impact on the history of American furniture in design, manufacturing, and marketing. Kendall was the most widely-copied designer in the United States for 25 years.

Kendall College of Art and Design, founded in his honor, was established in 1928. Over 90% of the members of the American Society of Furniture Designers are Kendall graduates.

Charles Sligh born 1850, was the founder of Sligh Furniture Company in 1880. At the time of his death in 1927, it was the largest manufacturer of bedroom furniture in the world employing nearly 1,500 workers. Sligh was the leader of his time in global thinking and in 1883 he traveled to Honduras and established the Honduras Mahogany Company.

Hollis S. Baker born 1888, he entered his father’s company, Baker Furniture, upon graduation from the University of Michigan and remained with it all his working life.

From his own research, he learned more about the history of furniture design and construction than anyone else of his era. His furniture acquisitions resulted in a major collection. Fortunately, a portion of that collection now resides at Kendall College of Art & Design for the instruction of its students.

Leo Jiranek born 1900, was one of the Industry's first freelance designers, who enjoyed 67 years in the business. Throughout his career Jiranek contributed to more furniture companies than any other known designer.

Full Details

TitleFurniture Men
KeywordsGlance at the Past, furniture, Kendall, Sligh, Baker, radio, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission
Pubdate StringNovember 4th, 2009

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