Spencer Staley, owner of The Good Mod
What he knows:
Classic design furniture buyer , furniture design, digital fabrication, 3-D modeling, furniture restoration
What you should know:
The Good Mod is equal parts vintage furniture store, event space, and furniture / design fabricator. The sheer volume of this loft-like space, and the bevy of furniture delights found around every corner make you feel like you are Willy Wonka, and you’ve found your chocolate factory.
How did you become a collector/seller of mid-century modern furniture?
A friend taught me how to do it. Then I kept reading books and learning on the streets. I had to learn by doing. Wheeling and dealing. It was a long hard process. But it is fun for me.
What are your favorite vintage American-made furniture makers/designers?
Paul McCobb, Harry Bertoia, Charles Pollock, Eero Saarinen, George Nakashima, Isamu Noguchi, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt
What tips do you have for people wanting to buy quality vintage furniture?
Buy what you like and what makes you excited. If you are passionate about it then it is good. Teach yourself what quality is. Go to really nice furniture stores and look at how things are made. Generally it’s the type of material used and the way they put it together. Look for hardwoods like walnut and teak and for joinery like dovetailing and mortise and tenon.
How can you tell if a vintage piece is authentic or a reproduction?
Sometimes you can’t. But you develop a eye for it. A lot of the classic more mainstream designs have all been knocked off at one point or another. In the last 10 or 20 years there’s been a huge production in China and in Asian countries. If it looks really new and it’s plastic and is not well-made that is most likely a bad knock off. The cooler, more rare designs don’t get knocked off as much because not as many people know about them.
How would you describe the difference and unique aesthetic qualities of vintage American-made mid-century furniture from other countries?
There is a lot of diversity in design and midcentury American furniture. There is definitely the very square plain Minimal stuff like Paul MCcobb or Eames. But even Charles and Ray Eames made art and sculpture before they were making furniture. So they made some pretty far out stuff. Also Harry Bertoia was a big time metal sculptor is more known for his wire mesh chairs but he made some fantastic abstract metal sculptures. There were different parts of the country where things were happening like Michigan, North Carolina, California, Pennsylvania, New York, and even in the Northwest. So there were a lot of things going on in America. And still are. Of course Danish furniture has it’s look and Brazilian as it’s look and Japanese as it’s look. But even those countries had variations too. Oh yeah and Italy was awesome.
What current American-makers do you think will be the next collectible designers?
Ha ha, well I hope me and people from our school. But I don’t really know a lot about what’s going on out there. I definitely admire a lot of people out there. I think Daniel Arshram and Rolu are doing some pretty interesting stuff. I’m in a weird place right now in terms of what I am interested in. I’m really looking for something new and exciting. We do a lot of research with materials and processes including robotics. Also using algorithms and math to create forms and materials and processes. But another side of me loves Altra minimal forms like what Sol lewit and Donald Judd were doing. I’m also into sculptural furniture that is super unfunctional. I like Marteeson a lot too. I’m all over the place.
SHOP ALL OF THESE AMERICAN-MADE VINTAGE PIECES AT THE GOOD MOD
*Image Sources – Cool Hunting / The Good Mod