An Icon's Legacy is Revived by a Father-Daughter Bond
Enter Smilow Design, a New York–based company that’s dedicated to creating modern heirlooms while putting quality and craftsmanship above everything else. Though it’s hard to get much better than that, what really draws us in is its nostalgic connection to a family history that developed closely in line with America’s midcentury design movement. Because of one woman’s inspiring dedication to reviving her late father’s work, you can now own an exquisite masterpiece formed from original midcentury designs and produced with similar techniques in the same area where it all started. We feel that a story like this insists on being told by someone who’s been closely ingrained in its history, so we asked Judy Smilow herself to help us bring it to life.
As the main force behind the brand, Judy takes us back to the beginning, where her father Mel Smilow conceived the company and first envisioned his enduring design principles. After serving in the U.S. army in World War II, Mel returned to America and launched Smilow-Thielle in 1949, a furniture manufacturer and retailer that he ran with his partner Morton Thielle. Mel went on to design modern furniture that stood out from what the consumer was used to seeing at that time. His designs were about keeping it simple and clean, with a concentration on details, quality, and proportion. Most importantly, he believed that good design should be accessible and should stand the test of time.
Each piece was created by skilled craftsmen in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where he was deeply involved in the process. Judy points out, "There wasn’t a single compromise in quality. That was his goal from the very beginning." Because of Mel’s dedication to this vision, he became a household name and his pieces can still be found within countless homes across America.