Monday, January 3, 2011


Boat designer Paul Goldman's unique conversion to furniture maker gave us the Plymold (Plymodern) company of Lawrence, Massachusetts, which existed for only one year, 1946.  It evolved into Plycraft (not to be confused with the modern Plycraft company).

While the total historic reality of some of the facts in the following obituary may be in dispute, it was published upon the death of Paul Goldman. I pass it along as the best concise information available on the man and his works.

Paul R. Goldman 

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Paul R. Goldman, 91, formerly of Andover, Mass., and president of Plycraft, Inc., in Lawrence, Mass., died Aug. 12, 2003, in Los Angeles.
Mr. Goldman graduated from the Boys Latin School in Boston, Brookline, Mass., High School, Class of 1931, and the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Economics, Class of 1935.
He married Sylvia Kravath of Dorchester, Mass., and Hull, Mass., in 1935. They were married close to 60 years before she died in March 1995.
The Goldmans moved to the Lawrence area in 1937 and resided at 8 Joyce Terrace in Andover from 1941 to 1994. Mr. Goldman bought the Joyce Castle Estate on North Main Street in Shawsheen Village in Andover and developed the Castle Heights neighborhood on that land.
Mr. Goldman started building his own sailboats and then went into the woodworking business in Lawrence. In his initial business, the Plywood Corp., Mr. Goldman developed Plytube, a molded plywood tubing. With this, he designed and manufactured Plytube products for the U.S. military during World War II and the Korean conflict, including masts for the signal corps and dummy aircraft decoys among other things. After the war, he started making molded plywood furniture and in 1953, started Plycraft, Inc., in Lawrence, making fiberglass-covered boats. He later went back to plywood-molded furniture and continued in that business until 1994, when he and his wife moved to Florida.
Mr. Goldman is considered "the father of plywood technology" and a pioneer in the furniture industry. He was described as one of the "Horatio Algers" of his time in a Newsweek Magazine article in November 1962. The same article noted the installation of his chairs at the Lincoln Center in New York City. Mr. Goldman designed his own machinery to mold plywood veneer into complex shapes, creating beautiful and very comfortable furniture. His first molded chair was made for Herman Miller, then he continued to manufacture all of his own designs.
Mr. Goldman designed thousands of tables and chairs during what is known as the "mid-century modern period". Several of his chairs, including the "Mr. Chair" and the "Cherner Chair", have become classics of this period and are now sold as valuable antiques of that area. Numerous articles have been published about Mr. Goldman. He has been noted in books about this period, and some of his chairs have been on exhibition in museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago. His most famous chair, "The Rockwell", was first produced in 1956 and is thus named as it appeared in a painting by the eminent artist, Norman Rockwell, on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in September 1961. Another famous chair, coined "The Swinger" because of its shape, has also become a classic. It continues to be recommended by various medical specialties because of its ability to raise the legs above the user's chest, truly the first real healthy ergonomic chair. Companies all over the world have copied this design. Both "The Rockwell" and variations of "The Swinger: are still manufactured in the U.S.

At the top and the following are examples of Plymold furniture pieces.