Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another Craigslist find

 Well, look what I drug home on this dreary Saturday morning.

A little late-night browse on Craigslist turned up a listing for an "Mission retro table."  However, as any MCM fan would recognize, it isn't Arts & Crafts at all.  It's a Herman Miller by George Nelson Platform Bench, or at least a fairly decent replica.

The Herman Miller website has the following to say:

"Introduced in 1946, the Nelson platform bench remains a landmark of modern design. The clean, rectilinear lines reflect designer George Nelson's architectural background and his insistence on what he called "honest" design—making an honest visual statement about an object's purpose. The bench serves as a multipurpose display and resting place in offices, public areas, and homes."

Personally, I prefer the natural wood finished tops, but for the price I can't really complain.  In the end, I offered double the listing price, because the seller already had a buyer lined up and I wanted to get the first crack at it.  Still, 2 x practically 0 = not much at all.

Even with the double offer, I thought that I'd lost out at one point.  When I showed up, the seller mentioned that someone had called and offered her $200(!) for the bench.  Obviously someone out there either REALLY loves George Nelson or has cash to burn.  Turns out, she refused because she thought that it sounded suspicious that someone would give her so much for a bench.  I'm not sure if I would have been able to resist an offer like that. What's a little kidnapping/serial killing if you can bring in that kind of dough?

I didn't notice any tag or mark, so I thought that it might just be a replica, but the more I look at it, the more I think that it might be an actual Herman Miller.  The angles, shape, and dimensions (14 x 18 1/2 x 48) are certainly correct.

The construction is what really has me convinced.  The originals used dowel rods to connect the slats along the ends...

source: Design Addict

... a doll rod at each side and a row of nails in the middle...

and phillips head screws to connect the base

Generally speaking, The best way to tell a replica apart from the real deal is to take a look at how it is is put together.  Most replica-makers used inferior materials and methods, taking short-cuts or deviating from the original in some manner in order to lower production time/costs.  For example, they might use screws instead of doll rods in a piece such as this.

I cant be 100% sure though.  I'm pretty fresh to this MCM stuff and I'm certainly no expert.

Overall, the condition is fair.  I'm not sure what the correct carpentry term is here, but one of the crenelations along the side had chipped and cracked a little.  Other than that, there's just the usual scuffs, scratches, and dirt.  I was thinking about giving it a fresh coat of paint or perhaps stripping the top and putting a natural finish on it, but since this might be an original, I think I'll leave it alone for the time being.  

While I was in the living room, I also took the time to rearrange the Plycraft lounge chairs.  The chartreuse one has a few scuffs on the back and I really wanted to show off that replica Eames Lounge's sexy rump, so this works much better.


  1. yes, definitely not art deco. this is a cool piece. do you think you will eventually use this outdoors or will you keep it in the house? it will make good extra seating if you have a gathering.

  2. Thanks Rachael! We still haven't moved into the master bedroom upstairs due to the water damage, but I might place this at the foot of the bed (likely with a sheepskin draped over it) when we do. Until then, it'll make for a spiffy printer stand.

  3. It looks great! If you didn't already have such a nice sleek coffee table, it would have been great right there in the livingroom.

  4. I absolutely love the slat benches! That's a craaaaaaazy good find!

  5. Ghaa! That was supposed to be MINE!!!! Just kidding. I spotted that and threw my hat in the ring but I'm glad (that if I didn't get it) that a good friend got it. I offered a little more than double but was way late in seeing the ad. I was thinking about doing a posting on the listing showing how there are always going to be amazing crazy good finds to be had on craigslist.

  6. MCM has been getting tougher and tougher to find, but every once in a while you'll come across something really cool like this on Craigslist. You've just got to be quick on the draw.

    Mr Mod - I wish that there was more to go around. If you ever see something I pick up that tickles your fancy, just hit me up. I'm sure that we both have a few pieces lying around and not being used that we could swap (The same, of course, goes for all of you out there). Haven't seen you and the GF in a while, so give me a call sometime and we'll make plans.

    1. Dang. Wish I had seen this earlier. We went to the Olive / 170 area to have dinner. We all could have hooked up! We had Jamaican but there is a Pho place, sushi house and a Seafood joint right there too. Maybe next weekend. Oh...and for real, there is plenty to go around. I certainly ain't complainin'! Wait until Spring. I bet there will be so much good stuff on craigslist (and in alley ways, check out Secondhand Hannah's blog!) that we'll have to be a bit more discerning in our purchases!

  7. Did you know my mum was actually the interior designer for all of the offices in the Swiss Re building? She used Herman Miller for everything in there. I knew the name was familiar!

  8. I saw the bench not long after it was posted, sent a email saying it could pick it up that evening, and was told they were going out for the night, and it would have to wait till the morning! You win some, you lose some ( they had it listed as mission retro bench)

  9. Original or not, I think it's a nice find. It looks great and it fits your living room :)