Sam Maloof, furniture designer extraordinaire, began his woodworking career when he moved into a new house with his wife and they needed to furnish it with a limited budget. This was the genesis of an illustrious career of craft and design that gained Maloof international fame and recognition.
The California-born artist was the first craftsperson to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, which he received in 1985. During his lifetime he produced nearly 5,000 pieces of furniture and was especially known for his chairs. He lovingly handcrafted each piece, with help from his assistants, and hoped to produce furniture “with soul.”
When more people saw the furniture he created for his home, he started receiving more commissions. At the peak of his career he even designed rocking chairs which were used by presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
His home in California has now been converted into a museum by the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts, and is an amazing effort to carry on his legacy. There is a gallery and a functioning wood shop where people still craft Maloof-style furniture. It’s wonderful to be able to touch the woodwork and see the handcrafted details of each piece. Interestingly, the house was moved to this current location in 2000 under the artist’s close supervision when the the nearby freeway was built.
Exhibitions and workshops are organized to celebrate the work of Maloof as well as other artists working with natural materials to produce stunning results. The drought-tolerant garden is also interesting to tour.
Know Before You Go
Tours of the house are available for a small charge. You can visit the grounds and walk around the lovely native plant gardens for free. Check the website for times and to schedule a tour.