Chances are you’ve seen a Milo Baughman-designed piece perhaps without even knowing it. After all, many of his mid-century modern furnishings are considered iconic of the movement and have been featured in a variety of famous settings. A circular sofa, a metal-framed leather scoop chair, a drum table – all of these 1950s – 1970s furnishings are representative of elegant Baughman style and likely to be seen on the set of Mad Men, in the homes of celebrities and gracing an upscale corporate office.
Not only are his designs iconic, they are also enduring. Baughman himself admitted toward the end of his life, “With an ongoing interest in 1950s and 1960s design, a lot of my work has been reintroduced and been very well-received. Increasingly, architects are using these mid-century classics from the pioneer producers of this period.”
About Milo Baughman
Baughman grew up during the Depression. His family moved to Long Beach, California in 1923, making him a “hometown boy” of our region of the state. His early interest in design was brought to life when his family asked him to help design their home. After a stint in the Army during World War II, Baughman returned home to study architectural design at the Art Center School of Los Angeles and at what is now known as the California Institute of the Arts.
His inspiration in crafting a new west coast style in furnishings came from designers such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer, as well as a trip to Europe in 1950, after which he remarked, “The simple clean lines appealed to my sense of beauty… (their impression) hit me like a ton of bricks.”. Rather than relying solely on chrome, glass and leather, Baughman incorporated relatively new materials such as walnut, iron and Formica.
“Furniture that is too obviously designed is very interesting, but too often belongs only in museums.”
Baughman worked for several California companies before deciding to infiltrate the East Coast. He achieved some success but it wasn’t until he traveled to High Point, NC in 1953 and contacted Thayer Coggin that he finally found a partner who shared his vision of producing furniture of nontraditional style easily attainable by the masses.
There was no compromise between form or function. Indeed, a New York Times piece from 1966 stated that, “Mr. Baughman and the companies he works for…are among the few mass producers putting out inventive, non-traditional furniture that is widely available to the public both in terms of price and retail outlet.” In addition, the newspaper raved that his designs were “elegant and fresh” and “strong and greatly sophisticated.”
Milo Baughman died in 2003 – still working at the age of 80! – but his furniture lives on. His collaboration with Thayer Coggin on designs, engineering and manufacturing techniques would forever define the style of mid-century modern. Thayer Coggin, Inc. is the holder of a lifetime licensing agreement and the only manufacturer allowed to produce Milo Baughman designs today.
Baughman designs are still in high demand due to their timeless form, functionality and beauty. Although you could scour antique stores for originals, we’ve made it much easier to incorporate your own piece of iconic mid-century modern furniture in your home or office. Stop in to either our Encinitas or San Diego showrooms now through the end of December and find the piece you’ll fall in love with from the Thayer Coggin Milo Baughman Road Show display.