Sam Maloof has reason to celebrate his 90th birthday. He is the most recognized living furniture maker, the most copied, and is still healthy enough to work a full shift in his workshop, six days a week.

On Sunday -- his day off -- friends, family, and admirers will gather at Maloof's sprawling home, workshop, and museum compound in Alta Loma, Calif., to celebrate his birthday with an event that has become something of a tradition for the legendary furniture maker.

The event, which takes place two days before his actual birthday, also will celebrate another landmark in Maloof's life, the ground breaking of the Maloof Foundation Educational Center. The planned facility is designed to embody the ideals of the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts, which was established in 1994 with the primary goal of preserving Maloof's legacy as well as the larger arts and crafts movement he is apart of.

When finished, the approximately 5,000-square-foot Educational Center will contain four exhibition halls that will host rotating exhibitions of arts and crafts. A central gallery will accommodate seating for lectures by scholars and demonstrations by artists.

The foundation and educational facility is also intended to help mentor the next generation of up-and-coming artists, something Maloof can relate to. He started out as a furniture maker in 1948 at the age of 32.

"I'd made furniture for myself and my parents using night-school facilities. And I got this offer from an interior decorator to furnish a dining room," he told Fine Woodworking in a 1980 interview. "The hardest part was telling my friend and mentor in art I was going to quit, make furniture for a living, really on the strength of this one commission. I remember agonizing over it for days.

"I got $1,200 for that job, which turned out to be exactly what the materials cost me," he said.

Times have changed for Maloof, who has become arguably the most successful furniture maker of his time. His furniture pieces capture tens of thousands of dollars and appear in elite private and public collections around the world, including the White House and the Smithsonian.



Click image to watch
a video excerpt from Maloof's DVD profile.

 

 


Sam Maloof: Highlights from a legendary career

- 1916: Born Jan. 24 in Chino, Calif.
- 1948: Marries Alfreda Ward Maloof and began his career as a furnituremaker
- 1971: First featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection at Washington, D.C.'s Renwick Gallery
- 1976: His furniture is exhibited in the public collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston
- 1984: Received a Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts
- 1985: Featured in the 20th Century American Design exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York
- 1988: His furniture is exhibited in the public collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York
- 1992: Received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design
- 1995: His furniture is added to the White House Collection of Arts and Crafts in Washington, D.C.
- 2001: the Smithsonian American Art Museum creates a special exhibit of his work, including one of his rocking chairs (pictured above), in an exhibit titled "the Furniture of Sam Maloof Retrospective."
- 2001: Marries Beverly Wingate Maloof following the death of Alfreda
- 2003: Maloof's hand-built home receives the State of California's Governor's Historic Preservation Award and is relocated to its current location as a living museum

Subscribe now  to access these articles by and about Sam Maloof.

Sam Maloof on Design
"You just have to try, you have to use your imagination."

At age 89, Sam Maloof talks with Fine Woodworking about designing and building furniture.



 

Sam Maloof
How a home craftsman became one of the best there is

Fine Woodworking's 1980 interview with the master craftsman.


 

How I Make a Rocker
A master craftsman reveals the details

Maloof outlines the fluid process involved in making one of his sculpted rockers.