Stanley Furniture’s American Forum line – a 12-page catalog from the company’s archives

Vintage-Stanely-American-ForumWhen I interviewed Stanley Furniture’s Randy Wells about the company’s project to collect and refurbish some classic Stanley pieces, I also extracted a promise. As part of the project, the Stanley team has been collecting vintage Stanley Furniture catalogs — and they said we could publish them here! Stanley’s scans are now in our hot little hands… and today, to get started: A look at The American Forum line. Designed by resident-designer H. Paul Browning, the American Forum line appears to have been designed with the “compact living” spaces of terrace apartments in mind. The lines are relatively simple… the wood stain, medium-toned, about as timeless as it gets. 12 pages follow. 

Design-21-vintage-stanley-furnitureAbove: I don’t have an exact date for this furniture line, but a scribble on the back suggests early 1960s. The brief at the front of the catalog is kind of… weirdly written. Seems like the American Forum line — either by itself or as part of a larger “A Principium of Design 21” series — is meant to forecast design for the 21st century. I looked up “principium” and it means ‘fundamental principles.’ Hey: Considering today’s revitalization of mid-century modern design, this Stanley forecast was not too far off. Here is this page in text for the google bots and for your ease of reading, too:

Design 21 — by Stanley

An exciting, stimulating forecast of the 21st century’s architecture, science and way of life. The changing big city living, with suburban innovations. The ever changing suburbia of metropolitan terrace apartments, give evidence to the increasing compatibility of furniture and architecture. H. Paul Browning, resident-designer, has reached the ultimate in this new concept of “compact living.” A freshness of perception is evident in the “cosmopolitan” wood finishes, created to blend with the wonderful lift of lighthearted color — the flash of red — the warmth of sunny yellow or the drama of stark white. These rare combinations fill every demand of “round the clock” cosmopolitan living, assuring a maximum of comfort with a minimum of care — Design 21 — by Stanley. A stride forward in contemporary living.

vintage-stanley-furniture-catalogAbove: What a wonderful graphic. Again — I think this was meant to be forecasting what our dwellings might look like in the 21st century.

vintage-Stanley-furniture-triple-dresserAbove: One of the pieces spotlighted in the catalog — a long dresser.

stanley furniture american forum buffetAbove: A buffet that Stanley purchased vintage and totally refurbished — like new condition, ready to go for another 50 years.



Above: Catalog pages. The fact that the furniture is set on tall-ish legs speaks to its intended use in smaller spaces, I think. Sitting high off the ground like this makes the furniture seem less heavy, less blocky, makes the rest of the space feel larger.

Stanley-American-Forum-FurnitureAbove: Scribbles on the back of the catalog indicate some final production occurred in 1964.

Readers, what do you think about Stanley’s early-1960s forecast about living in the 21st century?

Many thanks to Stanley Furniture for providing these wonderful archival materials!

Readers: More vintage Stanley Furniture catalogs to come!

Slide show — larger images — of the Stanley Furniture American Forum catalog:

To view slide show click on any thumbnail; it will enlarge; move forward or back via the arrows underneth the photo; you can start or stop at any image:

  1. Dave says:

    I just came across this while looking for information on the American Forum line from Stanley. My wife and I bought the triple dresser, chest, desk, 2 night tables and the larger mirror when we got married in the fall of 1963. No need to restore these pieces since they look just as good today as they did when new.

    One interesting item: when delivered, the drawer pulls were (of course) not installed. For over 55 years, ours have been pointed up, not down as shown in the catalog.

  2. Pam Kueber says:

    Lucky and smart you for having bought this furniture — it’s a beautiful line! So: Are you going to flip the drawer pulls around? 🙂

  3. Dave says:

    No, I really like the pulls upwards. (I think downwards looks like sort of a sad face.)

    Small addendum: we also bought one of the dining chairs to go with the desk.

  4. Leslie Syniec says:

    Hi! I’m looking for a furniture ad for the Stanley Olé set I had as a child. Any idea where i can get one? I heard it may have been in a Better Homes & Gardens but not sure month or year. Thanks!
    Would also love to find a few of the actual furniture pieces

  5. Matt Siemer says:

    I just bought a full bedroom set from the original owner and their handles are facing up too! That’s the first thing I noticed about the catalog as well.

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