Baldwin KingreyBaldwin Kingrey
Before CB2, Ikea or even Design Within Reach, Chicago’s Baldwin Kingrey offered modern design at a reasonable price, an unstoppable formula not just for selling furnishings but creating a trend-setting salon for the titans of midcentury design. With wares by Aalto, Bertoia and Eames, the store quickly acquired status as a laboratory for an A-list roster of design talent. Spies from Marshall Field took snapshots of the store’s window displays, the founder of Crate & Barrel stopped by for advice.
The release of Baldwin Kingrey: Midcentury Modern in Chicago 1947-1957 marks the first publishing effort by distinguished Chicago auction house Wright, and the first illustrated account of Baldwin Kingrey, a pioneer of the high-design/low-price trend sweeping the marketplace.
Architect Harry Weese, his wife Kitty Baldwin Weese and friend Jody Kingrey started Baldwin Kingrey to bring affordable Scandinavian designs to post-war America. Soldiers returned to small apartments and even smaller incomes—smart and economical designs were in demand. Soon, Baldwin Kingrey was shaping the way Americans bought furniture.
The trio’s relationships with the local designer community amplified their success. Alvar Aalto (whose stackable stool sold there for $6.25) visited regularly, and designers and architects from the city’s influential Institute of Design and Cranbrook in Michigan created impromptu salons—dropping by to eat lunch and test-drive furnishings straight off the crate from Europe. Soon, Baldwin Kingrey added textiles, jewelry and fine art exhibits to their growing Chicago showroom and later, a mail order catalog.
Intertwined with one hundred photographs of the store’s inventory are candid quotes by Ms. Weese and Ms. Kingrey, the women who read the pulse of both designers and consumers and kept both coming for more. Baldwin Kingrey: Midcentury Modern in Chicago 1947-1957 is an insightful look at the rise of midcentury style and a modern history of the hottest category in the design marketplace.
From Amazon’s listing of John Brunetti’s and Tom Fredrickson’s “Baldwin Kingrey: Mid-Century Modern in Chicago, 1947-1957”