Once upon a time (1934), in a land far, far away (Louisville, Kentucky) a man with the whimsical name of Consider H. Willett founded the Willett Furniture company. Consider’s goal was to create quality furniture using fine materials – and create he did! By the 1940′s Willett Furniture was the largest manufacturer of cherry and maple furniture in the United States. They were highly successful at the time, and became known for their more traditional pieces which often featured turned “rope” like detailing. In the mid-1950′s, they produced some more modern, simple pieces, as exemplified in their Trans-East line.
The Trans-East incorporated Oriental style, Scandinavian influences, and just a little bit of Shaker. It is this combination of styles, pulled off so successfully, that makes this furniture line exceptional. Whoever was responsible for this design was, in my opinion, a genius – challenged with designing furniture using a little from so many styles could have been disastrous, but instead, they came up with a marvel of furniture engineering.
Each piece is made completely out of solid cherry wood, and since Consider was a stickler for details, each piece was hand-sanded no less than 7 times, and waxed with their unique patented finish 5 times. One piece of furniture could take 6 weeks to make, and at the height of their popularity Willett’s customers were waiting up to a year for their furniture orders. Take a look through the photos I’ve posted here and you’ll see why – the detail and attention to design is everywhere!
Each chair strut and leg has an added “cap” carved out, and the spindles taper more thickly at the bottom, rather than in the middle. The front legs are splayed, where as the back legs are not. The seats are carved and shaped in consideration of both aesthetics and comfort (and they are indeed amazingly comfortable!) The spindles are set in a curved arrangement, so as to better mold to the back. And finally, the back rail has the neatest up-turn at the ends, highly indicative of that Asian influence.
The table has it’s own special features too. Being a gate-leg style with two wings, it boasts a total of 8 thick legs, which are embellished with brass at the top and interestingly tapered outwards towards the bottom – looking at them I am strongly reminded of the temple gates in Tokyo. While the table had the option to add a leaf in the middle, my research has indicated that when sold as a set, the table was included as is, with the four chairs (one with arms and three without). A leaf and additional chairs were apparently optional extras.
In case you couldn’t already tell, I am beyond excited to have here at The Fab Pad a full dining set from Willett’s Trans-East line! I have hand-waxed it myself using Antiquax (refinishing these pieces is a no-no because of the original patented finish that was applied) and it is now so shiny that the wood has almost a 3-D quality (Consider would be proud, I think)! It is a highly unusual set, and I doubt I will ever see another one – they are not terribly common in the United States, and probably as rare as a Sasquatch in Canada. Everyone who has seen this set has admired it for it’s beauty, now it just needs the perfect home to show it off! Come and check it out during store hours – it’s here and available for $1295 for the set.