Furniture Designs Davis Pratt and Harold Cohen In the late 1940s, Davis Pratt and Harold Cohen designed "modern" chairs, tables and other pieces of furniture. They probably were based in Chicago and affiliated with the Institute of Design as students or teachers when some of this furniture was being designed and marketed. The news items below are related to the International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture that the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum Design Project, Inc. held in the late 1940s. The contest appears to have taken place in Chicago in late 1947. The winners were chosen in January 1948 but kept under wraps so the designs wouldn't be pirated. New York Times author, Betty Pepis, wrote dozens of stories over three or four years about the contest, exhibition, and the winners. According to an article in the Dec 9, 1949 New York Times: NEW CHAIRS, CHEST TO BE SHOWN SOON Winners of Competition Last January to be Unveiled to Public in Spring Three chairs and a chest, the lines of which have been kept a closely guarded secret since they won awards last January in the International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art, will be revealed to the public in the spring of 1950. Knoll Associates are manufacturing the chair designed by Don R. Knorr, first prize winner in the seating section. Producing the chair, which demonstrates a new use of plastic, has required a great deal of research, it was explained by Mrs. Florence Knoll. Another new material is involved in the construction of the second-prize seating unit designed by Charles Eames in cooperation with staff members of the University of California. Although the chair was originally planned in metal, the final version will feature something dramatically new. The Herman Miller Company is making the chair. Davis Pratt shared the second prize with Mr. Eames and his conception of the chair will be produced, as originally planned, in metal, Irving Kitchner of the Bunting Company of Philadelphia announced. April 30, 1950 • New York Times Low Cost Design Originally announced in October, 1947 with $50,000 in prizes and grants.... 13 months after the original announcement, a Jury of six men and a woman met to judge the entries.... Three thousand suggestions from thirty-two countries... 250 entrants from the United States and nearly 500 designers who lived in every other part of the world.... Some interesting new techniques suggested were gluing wood slats to canvas for a flexible chair seat and back, using concealed rubber elements in a chair frame to give it special resiliency, making a plastic chair, legs arms and all, in one piece from a single mold. In each case the jury felt the prize-winners presented completely new dolutions for construction problems. They particularly cited the shaping of metal in the Knorr chair, the use of a material formerly restricted to airplane wings for the Eames chair, the inflated tube chosen for cushioning, by Davis Pratt, and the tapered shape and tubular supports of the Latimer-Day storage units. The widest departure from conventional furniture in the 1941 [Organic Design] exhibit was said to be a form-fitting chair presented by Charles Eames and Eero Sarrinen. It unquestionably, and admittedly, is a forerunner of the 1950 prize- winning shell designed by Mr. Eames with the help of his University of California research team. Good Design designers Check out this 1949 picture of Davis Pratt and other contest winning designers at The Pratt-Cohen chair is in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum at Homemakers' Tastes Like Those of Buyers When it comes to home furnishings, the homemaker's taste does not differ greatly from that of the professional buyer for a retail store, a recent poll conducted by the Merchandise Mart, Chicago, shows. The poll was taken of visitors to the Good Design exhibit, held under the joint auspices of the Mart and the Museum of Modern Art of New York City. Other object liked by both consumers and buyers, although in different degrees, were a walnut storage cabinet with black metal hardware and wood-tipped metal base, which was designed by Finn Juhl; an unusual lounge chair by Harold Cohen and Davis Pratt, which has a black steel tubular frame and a woven fiber sling seat, and a combination desk and dressing table of walnut and beech wood by the Danish designer Borge Mogensen.
New York Times - June 20, 1952
Pratt/Cohen Birch block table New York Times - Jan 5, 1954
Design at Southern Illinois University