Sam Maloof Home and Studio

I recently went to Los Angeles to visit family, and realized a woodworking hero of mine lived not far from where we were staying. Sam Maloof was born in Chino, California in 1916, and after serving in the Army during WWII started building furniture for himself out of necessity. Commissions started soon after, and as he grew more successful he added room after room to the old lemon grove he and his wife Alfreda had bought in 1948 in Alta Loma. The site is registered as a National Historic Place, and was moved and rebuilt (!) in 2004 as a result of the extension of the I-210 freeway. The Foundation set up by Sam and his wife conducts tours of the house and gardens, and workshops with Maloof's long time employees happen occasionally to give woodworkers an inside look at his techniques and sensibility.

courtyard next to Sam's workshop

courtyard next to Sam's workshop

one of several artful entrances that Maloof crafted through the gardens and his house

one of several artful entrances that Maloof crafted through the gardens and his house

the ingenious latching mechanism. the gate is (I believe) redwood, and the pins are maple

the ingenious latching mechanism. the gate is (I believe) redwood, and the pins are maple

http://www.malooffoundation.org

a peek into Maloof's workshop, which is still active today and is run by several of his long term employees. every chair has its own set of bandsaw templates.

a peek into Maloof's workshop, which is still active today and is run by several of his long term employees. every chair has its own set of bandsaw templates.

the extensive gardens, built on an old lemon orchard in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains, are filled with art, and both they and the structures that frame them are playful and welcoming, inviting exploration

the extensive gardens, built on an old lemon orchard in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains, are filled with art, and both they and the structures that frame them are playful and welcoming, inviting exploration

an early chair with taut lines, still owning a lot of its allure to its windsor chair and Shaker precedents. the flowing curves and elaborate joinery are not fully developed.

an early chair with taut lines, still owning a lot of its allure to its windsor chair and Shaker precedents. the flowing curves and elaborate joinery are not fully developed.

a close up of the arm/back joint from his early chair. Maloof's joints became more elaborate not for their own sake, but as a way to lock the pieces together. obviously that had an aesthetic bonus as well.

a close up of the arm/back joint from his early chair. Maloof's joints became more elaborate not for their own sake, but as a way to lock the pieces together. obviously that had an aesthetic bonus as well.

a more mature chair, with relatively unusual (for him) upholstery with a great fabric by Jack Lenor Larsen.

a more mature chair, with relatively unusual (for him) upholstery with a great fabric by Jack Lenor Larsen.

this is just catnip for woodworking types. Maloof had three sheds built on his site for rough wood storage and stockpiling parts. He's known for using predominantly Western black walnut, but there are all sorts of odd and exotic chunks stacked alluringly in the corners.

this is just catnip for woodworking types. Maloof had three sheds built on his site for rough wood storage and stockpiling parts. He's known for using predominantly Western black walnut, but there are all sorts of odd and exotic chunks stacked alluringly in the corners.

another door, this one into a living room

another door, this one into a living room