A new chair, the iconic Milo #951, took center stage at a reception to honor the chair’s inclusion into Salem’s teaching chair library. The occasion, held on Sunday, November 9, 2014, drew guests who share an appreciation for the art of furniture design. Among those who attended were representatives from North Carolina’s furniture industry, members of the Carolinas Chapter of the International Furnishings and Design Association, nationally recognized design experts, and members of the Salem Academy and College community.
Dr. Rosa Otero, assistant professor of design and director of the Design Program at Salem College, organized the special event. Otero directs the SIDE Chair Library, a component of Salem’s Sutton Initiative for Design Education. Established in 2012 and named in honor of Salem Academy alumna Martha Stevens Sutton A’71 the teaching chair collection includes more than 40 chairs that considered “icons” by furniture historians.
“No other college or university in the country has assembled a comparable collection of chairs that students can study and use as a source of inspiration,” said Dr. Lorraine Sterritt, president of Salem Academy and College. “For this, we are deeply grateful to Martha and Charles Sutton, whose generosity serves, not only as an inspiration to our students, but also as a tribute to pioneers in design.”
In addition to the collection of chairs, the Sutton’s gift includes a comprehensive research library for students, comprised of 900 books on furniture, architecture, design, history, and interiors.
Milo #951 was the 1966 creation of designer Milo Baughmann, whose well-known work resulted in international recognition through a 50-year collaboration with famed furniture producer Thayer Coggin. Their forward-thinking, distinctive designs and the engineering and manufacturing processes they introduced defined the Mid-Century Modern style that became popular for its unpretentiousness, attention to comfort, and affordability.
Speaking on behalf of the Thayer Coggin Company and Royale Coggin Wiggin, owner and CEO who was in attendance, Marketing Vice President Phil Miller traced the origins of the Coggin-Baughmann partnership. In his remarks, he said both men came from humble beginnings and were united in their work by a mutual desire to make beautiful furniture accessible.
“Neither aimed to become wealthy,” said Miller, adding, “Mr. Coggin once said, ‘We didn’t know we were making history, we were simply trying to make a living.’”
Miller also noted that Milo #951 became the company’s number-one-selling chair after it was introduced. In 2014, the chair was reintroduced as part of the company’s 60th anniversary celebration and has, once again, become a Thayer Coggin best seller.
“We couldn’t be more pleased about expanding the collection with a chair that represents innovative, forward thinking,” Sterritt said.