Q&A: Maia Smilow Schoenfelder on Reviving a Classic Midcentury Furniture Brand

Q&A: Maia Smilow Schoenfelder on Reviving a Classic Midcentury Furniture Brand

By Tim McKeough
The newly named head of Smilow Design discusses preserving and advancing her grandfather’s legacy.

Until a few years ago, collectors and design buffs had largely forgotten the late American midcentury modern furniture designer Mel Smilow. But in 2013, his daughter, Judy Smilow, reissued 10 of his shapely, wood-framed greatest hits under the name Smilow Design. Since then, interest in the unsung champion of affordable, American-made furniture—who designed, manufactured, and sold his line in Smilow-Thielle stores on the East Coast from 1949 through the late 1970s—has been building. In August, Judy died after a two-year battle with ALS. But Smilow Design, now helmed by her 27-year-old daughter, Maia Smilow Schoenfelder, and Maia’s father, graphic designer Steven Schoenfelder, in New York, is poised to bring even more attention to the modernist whose work was nearly lost to history.

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