J. Robert F. Swanson – Candelabrum

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Photograph by R. H. Hensleigh and Tim Thayer.

J. Robert F. Swanson (Designer)

Candelabrum, designed 1935, manufactured 1947

Born 1900, Menominee, Michigan; died 1981, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Manufacturer: Cray, Boston, Massachusetts

Brass with Chrome Satin Finish
25 ¼ x 18 ¼ x 6 inches
Gift of the Estate of Mr. And Mrs. Alfred C. Wermuth
ZO 1979.4

Architect J. Robert F. Swanson and his wife, Pipsan Saarinen Swanson, encountered difficulty when they sought contemporary furnishings appropriate to his modern buildings. To meet this need they worked with Pipsan’s father Eliel Saarinen to develop the Flexible Home Arrangements line of furniture in 1939. After World War II they expanded this line to create the Saarinen Swanson Group, a collection of coordinated furniture, fabrics, lamps, metalwork, glassware and pottery. Because of the line’s versatility, affordability and modern design, it met postwar desires for convenience, order, comfort, simplicity and economy. J. Robert F. Swanson’s contributions to the group included designs for furniture, metal fire tools and this boldly simple candelabrum.

Swanson originally designed the candelabrum in 1935 for the dining room of the Gordon Mendelssohn home that he designed in Bloomfield Hills. Composed of rectilinear branches forming a horizontal row of supports joined by diminutive arches, the candelabrum was appropriate both for the custom design of the Mendelssohn home and the varied interiors of later owners of Saarinen Swanson Group furnishings.

Ashley Callahan
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Category(s): Metalworks

Decade(s): 1930s, 1940s

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