Walter Lamb's Outdoor Furniture

by Nicholas Brown

Walter Lamb's Bronze Furniture designs for Brown Jordan. Image via Esoteric Survey and Pegboard Modern

Walter Lamb saw miles of old bronze tubing lying around the salvage areas of Honolulu Harbor in the mid-1940s. The possibility of recycling this into something new was his epiphany. The innovative use of a jacketed steel tube within an outer tube of naval bronze became the basis for his best known design work-a group of outdoor furniture designs that would evolve into Brown Jordan's premier line and be produced from 1948 until the mid-1980s. In 2008, Brown Jordan re-issued several of Walter Lamb's classic designs from his collection.

Much of what we see on the market belongs to the Series II furniture group originating in 1952. In preparation for the exhibition of a couple pieces in the Museum of Modern Art's biennial Good Design show, Walter Lamb's refined his earlier designs and production techniques; he redesigned frames in which a single tube could be formed to create the entire outer frame of a chair or a chaise with spot welded points eliminating 80% of the earlier hand welded joinery-a tremendous saving in production cost-further streamlining Lamb's designs.