Designer: Hugh Acton

Wright proudly presents the work of Hugh Acton, a leading and innovative American designer. With a career spanning over six decades, Acton created iconic designs such as the Acton Stacker and his slat bench. Working from an American craft ethos and inspired by the simplicity and wide appeal of Scandinavian design, Acton's body of work continues to endear itself to collectors of classic mid-century furniture.
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It has been my guiding principle, to simplify until everything is eliminated except the necessary.

Hugh Acton

Upcoming Lots Hugh Acton

HUGH ACTON, Rare bench | Wright20.com

201

Hugh Acton

Rare bench
estimate: $700–900

HUGH ACTON, collection of seven AMV Planters | Wright20.com

202

Hugh Acton

collection of seven AMV Planters
estimate: $700–900

HUGH ACTON, AMV Accessories poster | Wright20.com

203

Hugh Acton

AMV Accessories poster
estimate: $200–300

HUGH ACTON, Experimental free-edge bench | Wright20.com

204

Hugh Acton

Experimental free-edge bench
estimate: $2,000–3,000

HUGH ACTON, collection of AMV tabletop accessories | Wright20.com

205

Hugh Acton

collection of AMV tabletop accessories
estimate: $500–700

HUGH ACTON, Early prototype bench | Wright20.com

206

Hugh Acton

Early prototype bench
estimate: $2,000–3,000

HUGH ACTON, collection of AMV Smokers | Wright20.com

207

Hugh Acton

collection of AMV Smokers
estimate: $300–500

HUGH ACTON, cabinets, set of two | Wright20.com

208

Hugh Acton

cabinets, set of two
estimate: $1,000–1,500

HUGH ACTON, Executive Sofa | Wright20.com

209

Hugh Acton

Executive Sofa
estimate: $2,000–3,000

HUGH ACTON, prototype bench | Wright20.com

210

Hugh Acton

prototype bench
estimate: $2,000–3,000

HUGH ACTON, Early Acton Stacker chair model | Wright20.com

211

Hugh Acton

Early Acton Stacker chair model
estimate: $200–300

HUGH ACTON, occasional tables, pair | Wright20.com

212

Hugh Acton

occasional tables, pair
estimate: $700–900

HUGH ACTON, prototype magazine rack | Wright20.com

213

Hugh Acton

prototype magazine rack
estimate: $500–700

HUGH ACTON, drafting table | Wright20.com

214

Hugh Acton

drafting table
estimate: $1,500–2,000

HUGH ACTON, letter trays, pair | Wright20.com

215

Hugh Acton

letter trays, pair
estimate: $300–500

HUGH ACTON, rolling cart | Wright20.com

216

Hugh Acton

rolling cart
estimate: $500–700

HUGH ACTON, occasional table | Wright20.com

217

Hugh Acton

occasional table
estimate: $300–500

HUGH ACTON, Executive lounge chair | Wright20.com

218

Hugh Acton

Executive lounge chair
estimate: $1,500–2,000

HUGH ACTON, prototype magazine rack | Wright20.com

219

Hugh Acton

prototype magazine rack
estimate: $500–700

HUGH ACTON, Untitled | Wright20.com

220

Hugh Acton

Untitled
estimate: $300–500

HUGH ACTON, prototype desk chair | Wright20.com

221

Hugh Acton

prototype desk chair
estimate: $500–700

HUGH ACTON, Megaforms vessels, set of two | Wright20.com

222

Hugh Acton

Megaforms vessels, set of two
estimate: $500–700

HUGH ACTON, free-edge bench | Wright20.com

223

Hugh Acton

free-edge bench
estimate: $2,000–3,000

HUGH ACTON, shelving unit | Wright20.com

224

Hugh Acton

shelving unit
estimate: $1,000–1,500

HUGH ACTON, occasional table | Wright20.com

225

Hugh Acton

occasional table
estimate: $500–700

HUGH ACTON, collection of ten Megaforms vessels | Wright20.com

226

Hugh Acton

collection of ten Megaforms vessels
estimate: $700–900

HUGH ACTON, nightstand | Wright20.com

227

Hugh Acton

nightstand
estimate: $500–700

HUGH ACTON, Untitled | Wright20.com

228

Hugh Acton

Untitled
estimate: $300–500

HUGH ACTON, coffee table | Wright20.com

229

Hugh Acton

coffee table
estimate: $700–900

HUGH ACTON, occasional tables, pair | Wright20.com

230

Hugh Acton

occasional tables, pair
estimate: $700–900

HUGH ACTON, table lamp | Wright20.com

231

Hugh Acton

table lamp
estimate: $200–300

HUGH ACTON, occasional table | Wright20.com

232

Hugh Acton

occasional table
estimate: $500–700

HUGH ACTON, bench | Wright20.com

233

Hugh Acton

bench
estimate: $1,000–1,500

HUGH ACTON, Rondo stands, set of three | Wright20.com

234

Hugh Acton

Rondo stands, set of three
estimate: $1,000–1,500

HUGH ACTON, bench | Wright20.com

235

Hugh Acton

bench
estimate: $1,500–2,000

Six things to know about Hugh Acton

He was raised on a farm in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and had a pet golden eagle 

At fourteen he competed in the National Championship Soapbox Car races in a car that he designed himself 

He had a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Grinnell College before pursuing his MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art

In 1967, he won the Michigan Cyclo-Cross Championship and later admitted it was because his brakes had failed 

At the age of 65, he became a senior national champion in cross-country skiing 

He created large scale copper sculptures with help from his tractor, stating “I can’t leave a piece of copper unbent”

Acton Stacker

When it was launched in 1973, the Acton Stacker was the first ergonomic, stackable armchair of its time. The Z-shaped frame, durable construction and contoured seat and back made it an extremely popular choice for schools, offices and essentially any room that needed a seat. A smashing success early on, the Acton Stacker remains in demand and in production to this day. 
 

If I don't make something everyday, I feel my day is wasted.

Hugh Acton

Watch a conversation with Hugh Acton at his home and studio in Western Michigan.
 


Hugh Acton 1925–2018

Hugh Acton was an artist and designer, based primarily in Kalamazoo, Michigan, working in a style that blended the best of the American craft tradition and Scandinavian mid-century design. He is most known for his pioneering Acton Stacker (the first stackable chair with arms) and his epochal wood and metal slat bench.

Acton was born in 1925 in Kansas City, Missouri and soon after adopted by a family who owned a farm and ranch in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. From a young age, he showed a penchant for building things and his time spent on the farm would influence his design ethos of simplicity in form and material. 

Acton attended Kemper Military Academy and would go on to serve as a merchant marine in Japan and later, in Korea. Between the wars, Acton studied philosophy at Grinnell College in Iowa on the G.I. Bill and credits his education for his adherence to “absolute simplicity.” He went on to earn an MFA in furniture design at the famed Cranbrook Academy of Art. While at Cranbrook, Acton designed his renowned slat bench, a work inspired by the clarity, ease and wide appeal of many Scandinavian designs.

After graduating, Acton worked for the General Motors’ Technical Center in Detroit and later established his own furniture company, Hugh Acton, Inc., which specialized in office and library furniture, storage units, as well as tabletop accessories and planters. Acton sold the company to Brunswick Furniture Company in 1967, but continued to design independently; his most famous design, the Acton Stacker from 1973, had a significant presence in schools and libraries at the time and is still in production today. His commercial designs have won multiple awards over the years, including the American Institute of Design Prize, the Iron and Steel Medal, and the Institute of Business Designers Award.

Acton’s energy and enthusiasm was not only contained to design; he was also an avid sportsman, winning the Michigan Cyclo-Cross championship in 1967 and becoming a national champion senior Olympian in cross country skiing at the age of 65. Later in life, Acton began exploring other materials such as marble, creating sculptures, furniture and tabletop accessories. He also made jewelry and monumental sculptures in copper that he crushed and formed with his tractor on his farm in western Michigan. Acton led a life devoted to “translating the principles of form found in nature to those of artful design.” He passed away in 2018, leaving behind an inventive and essential body of work.

Auction Results Hugh Acton

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