Milo Baughman was an American designer born in the middle of the United States, in Goodland, Kansas, moved to California and at thirteen designed his parents house. After returning from the Army during World War II, he attended the Art Center School of Los Angeles and at Chouinard Art Institute, later known as the California Institute of the Arts.
He designed for many companies and is best known for his long 50 years with Thayer Coggin Furniture where he produced a varied and large collection of furniture.
Baughman is extremely difficult to categorize. His designs vary widely in the type of materials and construction. Some designers pick out a few materials–a limited palette–and begin with a certain artistic philosophy and work through various iterations of the style or form.
Paul McCobb did this in many of his series such as with the thin, iron framed wall and desk units he designed for the Planner Group.
At times, Baughman’s work reminds one of the many Scandinavian furniture makers with the carefully sculpted wood with spiky legs and molded backs. Then he turns to metal supports that suspend the main body of the chair as in a swing, or he reduces the forms to their simplest shape while supporting sides with thick acrylic. He constantly would move from an almost severe rectilinear construction to curving, softer shapes.
In terms of chairs and sofas, Baughman did seem to divide his designs in sections. Chairs might be looked at in terms of functional parts. An area exists for sitting, a structure supports the seat off the ground, and possibly there is a framework for reclining or leaning back and resting arms. In chair design, these elements can be discrete, separate elements associated with the overall form. However, they can also be contiguous and flow as one visual sculptural presentation. The Panton Chair easily comes to mind as an example of one distinct shape that defines the entire function.
The Barcelona Chair by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe serves as a fine example of a chair with separate elements; in this case, a back, a seat, and a support or leg structure.
Two other examples of a unified, sculptural form in chairs are the Bean Bag Chair by Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini and Franco Teodoro, Italian designers and the Butterfly Chair by Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy, Brazilian collaborators.
Milo Baughman was quite capable of not accepting any design tenet when it came to furniture except to keep to the basic modernist philosophy.
As one can see from the images above, Milo Baughman had a large design portfolio. Since his furniture is still produced and is sold by Thayer Coggin Furniture Company, please follow the link here to see a more complete list of what they have to offer.