With the ever-popular Mid-century modern style at the center of his design aesthetic, Adrian Pearsall furniture continues to be a coveted collector’s item. American-made Adrian Pearsall furniture became synonymous with the timeless style and expert craftsmanship that have contributed to the brand’s longevity.
In 1952, after studying architecture at the University of Illinois, Adrian Pearsall opened his first studio, Crafts Associates, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Coming to market during an era when the sleek lines and organic sensibilities of Mid-century modern were at the forefront of consumer taste, Adrian Pearsall faced competition from some of the most prominent brands. Makers like Charles Eames and Herman Miller had soared to become frontrunners in the market, but Pearsall soon challenged these competitors with his novel take on Mid-century design.
Pearsall earned a reputation for taking a more playful approach to contemporary furniture, melding the clean design of mid-century forms with a passion for comfort. For example, Pearsall was inspired by the “Sacco” chair, a bean bag chair originally designed in the late 1960s by the Italian designers Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini, Franco Teodoro. Not only did he work to popularize the style with his own variation, but Pearsall also channeled this inspiration into designs for some of his scoop chairs, which were relaxed but also refined.
Pearsall sold the wildly successful Craft Associates in 1968 and soon after opened another studio, Comfort Designs, to which he would dedicate much of the remainder of his career. Despite Pearsall’s death in 2011, his aesthetic can be seen in much modern design: in addition to his designs being licensed by major brands, original vintage examples of Adrian Pearsall’s furniture often tantalize collectors when they come to auction.
Let’s look at some of the most collectible examples of Pearsall’s furniture that collectors clamor for on today’s market.
Adrian Pearsall ‘Gondola’ Sofa
One of Pearsall’s earliest successes, the ‘Gondola” sofa from the 1960s exuded his unique blend of mid-century mod flair with ultimate comfort. These sofas get their name from their low-profile arc that resembles the curve of the beloved Venetian gondola. Variations on this sofa design included an adaptation of a more boxy form with raised ends.
Adrian Pearsall ‘Jax’ Coffee Tables and Side Tables
Another of Pearsall’s Craft Associates’ greatest successes, the ‘Jax’ tables also debuted in the 1960s. They consisted of walnut bases in a shape reminiscent of toy jax that were topped with glass.
Other Adrian Pearsall Sofas, Side Chairs, and Easy Chairs
There are almost too many iconic sofa and chair designs to connect with Adrian Pearsall, but these samples give a sense of the design diversity that the innovator incorporated into his practice. Whether it’s a plush sofa design to recall the fluffy form of a cloud or high-backed lounge chairs in characteristic avocado green upholstery, these examples come together to showcase Adrian Pearsall’s universal appeal.
Authenticating Adrian Pearsall
How can you tell if you have a piece of authentic Adrian Pearsall furniture? Pearsall purportedly did not like to put his name on his creations, but there are some clues that can help identify your piece.
Check for Tags
While Pearsall’s name might not appear on the piece, tags reading “Crafts Associates” or “Comfort Designs” may indicate an authentic work.
Pearsall had a passion for the rich tones of walnut and stressed the use of all-natural materials in many of his furniture pieces. So, if you are considering a piece attributed to Pearsall but find synthetic additions, be cautious.
Some Pearsall furniture might still have its original upholstery, but the wear and tear of a half-century of use could mean that caretakers of Pearsall’s designs have re-upholstered sofas or easy chairs. If an upholstered item looks a little too fresh, do not dismiss it outright: inspect the furnishing to assess signs of re-upholstery (for example, extra sets of tack or staple marks) or ask the seller for additional details.
Adding Adrian Pearsall Furniture to Your Space
Mid-century modern furniture shows no signs of falling off-trend, and Adrian Pearsall furniture offers some of the most compelling examples of the style today. Be it a sharp-angled side table or a sweeping sofa, a choice piece of Adrian Pearsall furniture can pull a room together and recall the brilliance of twentieth-century furniture innovation.