In Praise of Edmond J. Spence
As a long time collector of 20th Century design, I’ve come across many exciting and iconic pieces from famous names such as Milo Baughman, Earo Sarinen, and Charles and Ray Eames. Great men and women who redefined the aesthetics of not only our interiors, but our sense of luxury and style. I always felt irked, however, that one name was so rarely listed among the greats: Edmond J. Spence.
Spence’s twists on classic Scandinavian modern designs always struck me as playful and brilliant. In the 1950s he developed a series of Swedish-inspired furniture that was actually manufactured in that country and then imported by Walpole Furniture of Massachusetts. The line was made of light colored woods such as birch, sycamore and curly maple. With simple, yet ultra modern lines which brought the staid classicism of Scandinavian Modern into a new realm entirely. There’s something “Atomic” or “Frank Lloyd Wright” about the pieces, something reminiscent of contemporary interpretations of the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic, and yet, these pieces were created at the very beginning of the movement.
He continued his design explorations with clever Asian and Mexican inspired pieces. These lines included dark wood pieces with subtle ornamentation inspired by ancient art and designs.
His work won awards, and in the early 1950's it was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, which led to commissions from foreign royalty and celebrities. Interestingly, Spence's furniture was even used on the set of “I Love Lucy” for many years.
You can find several of Edmond Spence’s Scandinavian inspired pieces from the 50’s and one piece from the 60’s with a really cool ornate design on our website!