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.

Mark McDonald

The Founder of Mid-century Design

Mark McDonald has always been at the epicenter of the world that is mid-century design, to a large extent, it is a world he created. For over forty years, Mark has pioneered whole fields of collecting, providing the scholarship and creating the market for mid-century furniture, studio jewelry, ceramics and Italian glass.

Fifty/50 store front; Ralph Cutler, Mark Isaacson and Mark McDonald

In 1983, Mark opened Fifty/50 with partners Mark Isaacson and Ralph Cutler. This groundbreaking gallery defined collectors’ taste. At the time, modern works were still largely overlooked; Mark and his partners collected and presented the rarest and most interesting pieces, often working with the makers themselves, to create compelling exhibitions accompanied by catalogs documenting the work. 

Fifty/50 opened its doors with an exhibition of Eames design; Mark McDonald and Ray Eames

In the 1990s, Mark opened Gansevoort Gallery, where he continued to curate collections and exhibitions of lasting impact. Over the years, he established relationships with artists and their estates becoming the go to authority on the designs of Art Smith, Ilonka Karasz and Leza McVey, among others. His enthusiasm for the material extended beyond the gallery floor to the back room where lucky visitors got to flip through Mark’s impressive design reference library and discuss the importance of works with him. 

Art Smith with his Spiral necklace design; Mark hosted an exhibition on Art Smith at Gansevoort Gallery. His support of the artist extended to the Brooklyn Museum to which Mark donated several Smith pieces for their collection.

A connoisseur and wealth of knowledge, Mark became a resource for prominent collections across the globe—private and public alike. He inspired a generation of collectors and dealers introducing designers and their production to an audience that continues to grow. In 2002, Mark closed Gansevoort and established 330 gallery in Hudson, New York. Now, semi-retired, Marks splits his time between New York and Florida. He still collects, curates, supports, and shepherds the scholarship of mid-century design.