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The Softer Side: Stickley Fine Upholstery

While Arts and Crafts conjures images of sturdy cases and stunning wood grains, upholstered furniture has been an important part of that design movement from the very beginning. Fashioning a comfortable chair or settle was in line with Gustav Stickley’s vision of the home as a place of pure comfort and ease. Likewise today, upholstery is a vital component of the contemporary Stickley business, one to which we apply the same care and high standards of quality.

Perhaps Gustav’s and Leopold’s best-known upholstered pieces were their variations on the Morris Chair originally produced by William Morris’s Morris & Co. in England. Stickley’s Mission interpretation was quite different, with cushions covered in plain, soft leather and beautifully grained solid oak frames that lacked all excessive Victorian ornament; Morris’s recliner functionality was revised from a metal bar to a wooden peg system.

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Ad for Stickley’s early “Morris” chair

Gus also designed the Eastwood Chair (see this month’s sidebar!) and a range of broad settles, ancestors of today’s sofas. Leopold introduced the Prairie Settle and Chair with graceful corbels and quadralinear posts that revealed the beauty of the ray flake on all four sides.

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Prairie Settle and Tile-Top Cocktail Table

Though Leopold Stickley later produced a variety of popular wing chairs, including a style held in the American collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, his favorite upholstered chair now bears his name, and in it you see the influence of the Colonial styles that became his specialty. As early as the 1930s, a version of this heavily tufted chair appeared in L. & J.G. Stickley catalogs. It’s said that Lee’s own chair, where he often napped in the furniture showroom, was well worn from use by the time of his death in 1957. Years later, Alfred and Aminy Audi rescued the chair from storage and eventually revived the design. We still make the Leopold’s Chair, and it’s one of the most consistently popular items we sell.

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Early Leopold Stickley wing chair

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The original that inspired Leopold’s Chair

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Today’s version of Leopold’s Chair and Ottoman

In the mid-1990s, the Audis recognized the opportunity for Stickley to expand into upholstery production. The company purchased the assets of Heirloom Upholstery in Archdale, North Carolina, in 1995 and reopened the plant as Stickley Fine Upholstery. More than 25 years later, SFU in Archdale is the birthplace of all our fully upholstered pieces, crafted by artisans with decades of experience in the fine points of upholstered furniture.

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An SFU craftsman hand-knots a spring foundation

The attention to detail that goes into an upholstered chair, sofa, or sectional—from the overbuilt frames to the pattern-matched fabric application—is every bit as thorough as that of our Stickley casegoods. A significant mark of quality is our use of an eight-way hand-knotted spring foundation that provides each piece with long-lasting support and comfort.

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Stickley Selectionals 7000 Series sectional with Park Slope tables

 

Today, Stickley’s exceptional upholstery is designed in a variety of styles that appeal to a wide range of customers. We still create Mission pieces based on early Stickley designs, but in addition to their original versions we can update them with the latest technology for reclining or motion, as we’ve done with the classic Orchard Street Sofa. Contemporary and transitional looks also speak to our design versatility.

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Beacon Club Chair and Ottoman | Park Slope Chairs and Ottoman

Paxton Chair

Devon Chair

Customization is easy thanks to a broad assortment of fabrics and fine leathers. Combine these with the full range of Stickley wood finishes and they have the power to thoroughly alter a piece’s character.

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A mood board of coordinating fabrics, leathers, finishes, tiles, and paint colors

Stickley Selectionals go a step further and allow customers to choose every detail from arm style to back style to seat depth. Without a doubt, the marriage of exquisite Stickley wood furnishings with beautiful and deeply comfortable upholstered goods creates the warm, personal sanctuary that Gustav and Leopold Stickley conceived for every home.

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Memphis Sofa, Chair, and Ottoman with St. Lawrence tables and bookcase

 

Additional sources:

“Adjustable-Back Chair,” The Victoria and Albert Museum. https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O9236/adjustable-back-chair/

Mrs. Aminy Audi, CEO and Chair of the Board

Amanda Clifford, Director, the Stickley Museum

Stickley, Leopold. The Story of a Developing Furniture Style: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition. L. & J.G. Stickley, Inc. Fayetteville, New York, 1950.

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SEE WHAT’S NEW IN OUR DOWNLOADABLE IMAGES!

Visit our download page to grab beautiful Stickley photography for your computer and phone. You’ll find calendar wallpapers for your desktop or laptop and artistic wallpapers for your mobile devices. We’ll keep adding more, so check back often!

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THIS MONTH IN STICKLEY HISTORY

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Audi!

November 5 marks the birthday of our CEO and Chair of the Board, Mrs. Aminy I. Audi. Who could have guessed that when she met her future husband, Alfred, and made the journey from her native Lebanon to America, they were setting so much recent Stickley history in motion?

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SPOTLIGHT ON THE CLASSICS

Eastwood Chair

This early example of an upholstered Arts and Crafts chair was such a favorite of Gustav Stickley’s that he kept one at both his Syracuse house and his Craftsman Farms home in Parsippany, New Jersey. This version, based on his original design, joined our Mission Collection in 1997 and is still going strong.

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THE STICKLEY DIFFERENCE

Creating Leopold’s Chair

See all the experienced hands that build this iconic piece in our Archdale, North Carolina, factory!

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In a 1906 article in The Craftsman, you’ll find as good a summary of the Arts and Crafts philosophy as there is, written by Gustav

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