Mid-Century Designer Focus: Mel Smilow

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June 17, 2013
An unsung mid-century designer is poised for a triumphant revival. Read Full Article
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  Smilow’s house is located in Usonia, the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed community in Mount Pleasant, New York. The furnishings are all from Smilow-Thielle. Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

    Smilow’s house is located in Usonia, the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed community in Mount Pleasant, New York. The furnishings are all from Smilow-Thielle. Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

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  Mel Smilow, left, and Morton Thielle demonstrate the solid wood slide and groove construction of a drawer inside one of their creations (cheaper furniture uses metal slides). Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

    Mel Smilow, left, and Morton Thielle demonstrate the solid wood slide and groove construction of a drawer inside one of their creations (cheaper furniture uses metal slides). Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

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  A handsome sofa from the Smilow-Thielle Rail Back Collection is distinguished by walnut dowels surrounding the piece’s sides and back. Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

    A handsome sofa from the Smilow-Thielle Rail Back Collection is distinguished by walnut dowels surrounding the piece’s sides and back. Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

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  A Smilow-Thielle advertisement appeared weekly on page three of the New York Times in the 1960s through early 1970s. Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

    A Smilow-Thielle advertisement appeared weekly on page three of the New York Times in the 1960s through early 1970s. Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

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  The WAC-33 Rail Back lounge chair featured removable cushion covers to enhance longevity. Reupholstering is expensive, so Smilow- Thielle designed covers to allow consumers to easily refresh the piece. Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

    The WAC-33 Rail Back lounge chair featured removable cushion covers to enhance longevity. Reupholstering is expensive, so Smilow- Thielle designed covers to allow consumers to easily refresh the piece. Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

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  Shot in 1968 at the Smilow-Thielle store in Manhasset, New York, a dining room vignette outfitted with decorations and housewares encouraged shoppers to feel at home. Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

    Shot in 1968 at the Smilow-Thielle store in Manhasset, New York, a dining room vignette outfitted with decorations and housewares encouraged shoppers to feel at home. Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

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  “This is the lightest-looking and least cumbersome recliner on the market today,” the Smilow-Thielle partners wrote about the WAC-Recliner in their 1969 sales manual. The leg structure was an integral part of the hardwood frame and so did not need screw-in legs. Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

    “This is the lightest-looking and least cumbersome recliner on the market today,” the Smilow-Thielle partners wrote about the WAC-Recliner in their 1969 sales manual. The leg structure was an integral part of the hardwood frame and so did not need screw-in legs. Photo courtesy of the Smilow Family.

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