Grandma's Arthur Umanoff Chairs

As often occurs, yesterday I learned something from one of my readers who commented a few weeks ago, and a longstanding mystery (which I should have looked into more carefully years ago, because it's not THAT obscure at all) has been solved. The designer and maker of the chairs from my grandmother's breakfast room has been determined. Here, an identical set from Rago Arts a few years ago, which failed to sell:

They're by Raymor and designed by Arthur Umanoff, and most likely came from whatever retailer my grandparents used when they bought all their Dunbar. Not particularly valuable or precious, they are nonetheless very comfortable and presently in storage at the family house in Chicago. I have 6, I think (or maybe weirdly 5), and now I think I need a pair of these to head and foot a table, with the 6 I have around the table:

I don't know if I would ever choose these chairs if they hadn't been given to me, but some of the happiest times of my life were spent in that room, and I'll never forget my grandma late at night sitting at the breakfast table, playing solitaire. They sat around a massive heavily carved table in exceptionally dark wood, 17th century Spanish in style if not provenance. The top was covered in deep scrollwork carvings that reminded me of cowboy leatherwork that I saw in Jackson. This carving destabilized anything placed on the table, and I remember many a spilt bowl of cereal or glass of orange juice. We did not keep the table. Pretty, and quite striking with the spindly legs of the chairs, but a bitch to clean pools of milk out of.

Look at these Unamoff benches -- so striking! I need a pair:

I wish I could go back in time and advise my grandmother that she needed the benches to sit in the atrium (which would really have been quite nice) and why not pick up a few more of those charming Dunbar side tables with the Capron tiles? How about a few more with the glass LCT tiles, to use as bedside tables? And maybe let's not use them as plant stands? Because Future-Nick is having trouble finding someone to properly remove the water stains.


YHBHS said...

loving those stools, and those chairs are pretty great. love the story you put along with them though... it seems at the end of the day, our objects connect us to stories and good memories hopefully! i think grandma would of loved those stools too....:)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I love how the chairs have a little bit of cushion to them. Just a little bit not to much.

-Zane of ontario honey

Anonymous said...

just picked up a pair of these that were restored very nicely. The backs were painted and made them stand out a bit more. I like the rubber footies used I will now see if I can find the same for mine!!

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