In the mid 1950s Heritage Henredon Furniture Industries, High Point & Morganton NC engaged Frank Lloyd Wright to develop a line of furniture for a High Point company. This might have been the first time that a free-lance designer with an international reputation was engaged by a High Point company. High Point’s furniture manufacturers had long employed designers, both in-house and free-lance, to help create new product, but none had reached out to the recognized design leaders to lend creativity and prestige to their products in quite the same way.
Wright was in his early eighties, but hardly retired from designing. At the time he had design studios in Wisconsin and Arizona, and he was working on a number of projects. His concept for the Heritage line was simple, yet elegant, emphasizing geometry and the surface appearance of its Honduras mahogany with only minimal ornament.
The line was introduced in September 1955 at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, where Wright explained that the forms were “mathematically correct,” designed for the human figure, and functionally adaptable for easy living. However, the line was expensive and despite a widespread media campaign by Young & Rubicam, a well-known public relations firm based in New York City, little was actually produced. Examples from this line are sought after by today’s collectors of mid-century modern furniture.
Heritage was founded in High Point by Elliott Wood in 1932. Henredon was founded in Morganton in 1945 by three men, and the company’s name is derived from their names: Henry Wilson, Ralph Edwards, and Don Van Noppen. Wood was an investor in Henredon. Good design has long been the hallmark of both firms. The companies were united through a cross-licensing agreement in 1948. Together they developed the relationship with Wright to produce his furniture designs. Today Heritage (as Drexel Heritage) and Henredon are owned by Furniture Brands International.
Visit our website for more information on the Furniture Heritage Project and the exhibition that opens in May 2009