The Dynamic Duo That Helped Make Mid-Century Modern A Household Name
We might as well call it the “Baughman/Coggin Effect,” because when renowned furniture designer Milo Baughman met visionary maker Thayer Coggin in 1953, American homes, and living spaces around the world would never be the same again. Each of them legends in their own right, both men were undoubtedly ahead of their time, and devoted to creating sleek, inspired furniture that could withstand everyday use, and become cherished and stylish heirlooms for generations to come. One of our favorite creative collaborations began with a simple handshake, and would endure for over 50 years to produce some of the most stunning collections of pieces still appreciated and widely imitated even today.
Great Minds Think Alike
Milo Baughman was always inspired by the luxurious and bold set designs of classic Hollywood films, after living in Los Angeles during the 1940s. The sets seemed to create epic, yet contained worlds within a single bedroom or living room, and managed to feel more like a richly-layered atmosphere, or well-rounded character than mere furnishings. Baughman admired the film sets’ unabashed use of materials like lacquered wood, chrome, and glass with subdued color pallets that made the most of an occasional pop of color or textured pattern. His own designs would aspire to the same degree of grand style and stature, while still managing to feel like home. Nevertheless, when he ventured to High Point, North Carolina, the national center for furniture making, most of the companies he pitched his designs to didn’t seem to understand or support his vision– that is, of course, until he met Thayer Coggin.
A Partnership In Style
Thayer Coggin was known as a man who could make anything, and teaming up with Baughman’s ambitious design ideas brought out the best in his own talents and vision as well. A savvy businessman with high standards for quality and care, Coggin insisted that all furniture made in his shop be bench-made by a single craftsman to ensure a streamlined consistency for each element of every piece. He valued ingenuity, wasn’t afraid to take a chance on a new idea, and offered custom-made upholstery with hundreds of high-end fabrics, patterns, and rich colors to choose from. Coggin’s dedication to the championing of modern furniture design was the perfect pairing for Baughman’s cutting-edge concepts, and together, they produced timeless and iconic pieces that would galvanize and symbolize the mid-century modern revolution for years to come.
A Touch Of Class For Modern Times
By infusing streamlined designs with materials that ranged from chrome and brass to glass and burled wood, Baughman and Coggin developed a style all their own at a time when impeccable taste was King. The post-World War II era had ushered in a swift return to American family values, and a devoted attention to home life; customers were hungry for furniture that was impressive for entertaining, but also functional and comfortable enough for their everyday needs. Baughman believed that the best design was the kind that stood the test of time, so he incorporated clean lines and elegant curves into his imaginative concepts that would add a sense of stability and comfort without feeling heavy or obtrusive. His tables, chairs, and sofas were structured, yet accessible representations of contemporary design, and combined with Coggin’s manufacturing prowess, were soon well-known in 1950s households everywhere.
An Influence That Lives On Today
Today, the influence and legacy of these two innovators can still be seen in homes, offices, museums, and even on the big screen! In 1985, Milo Baughman’s work was included in New York’s Whitney Museum exhibition, “High Styles: Twentieth Century American Design.” And for those Mad Men fans out there, it’s easy to see what may have inspired Don Draper’s name – just feast your eyes on the Draper Lounge Chair with its solid walnut frame and sensuous, leather upholstery. Another of Baughman’s classic designs is the 1076 “Pit” Design Classic Sectional, named for its incredible comfort and versatility; in 2021, it was featured rounding out Miranda’s living room in the new Sex and The City movie, Just Like That.
Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn / HBO | 1076 "Pit" Design Classic Sectional
For Thayer Coggin and Milo Baughman, modern furnishings were meant to offer more than simple practicality or creative expression alone; rather, they should be a natural melding of the two. The Baughman/Thayer collaboration itself was not only a meeting of forward-thinking minds but also an amplification of their greatest individual talents. Both men would eventually be inducted into the Furniture Hall of Fame, and Thayer Coggin also received the very first Outstanding Designer Support Award from the American Society of Furniture Designers in 1989 for his bolstering of Baughman’s designs. If you’d like to learn more about mid-century modern style, here are some tips on how you might incorporate pieces like these into your home spaces, and carry on the “Baughman/Coggin Effect” in your own life today.
Be sure to check out our collection of Milo Baughman furniture from Thayer Coggin!