American designer Adrian Pearsall (1925-2011) was born in Trumansburg, New York, in 1925. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of seventeen. Subsequently, he studied architectural engineering at the University of Illinois, graduating in 1950. After only two years working in architecture, he decided to change his focus to furniture design. In 1952, he and his brother Richard founded Craft Associates, Inc. in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In the beginning, the company primarily produced designs in wrought iron, but it soon came to specialize in wood furniture, especially walnut. Pearsall’s use of walnut in the structures of coffee tables and sofas became his signature look.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Craft Associates, Inc. became one of the US’s most prominent furniture companies. At the time, Pearsall’s designs were seen to be daring, as he was fond of creating dramatically high-backed armchairs, as well as long, gondola-shaped sofas; all of which featured sculptural wood components. His vibrant upholstery choices also stood out at the time and were heavily influenced by women’s fashion.
Many of his Pearsall’s designs are un-named, due to both the prolific nature of his work and the fact he often created custom designs in his free time. Currently, his family is creating a catalogue of his designs for prospective collectors and furniture enthusiasts.
Pearsall work is often overshadowed by his more successful, Atomic-Age contemporaries, such as Vladimir Kagan (1927-2016) and Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988). In fact, it’s frequently described as “in the style of Kagan” and has been purposefully mislabeled by auctioneers and sellers in order to fetch higher values. Today, however, many collectors are finally giving due credit to Olsen’s extremely well crafted designs.
Sometime between 1968 and 1969, Craft Associates, Inc. was sold to the Lane Furniture Company. In the years following, Lane produced a series of Brutalist-style coffee tables, dining tables, and chairs that have been misattributed to well-known American designer Paul Evans (1931-1987). Lane eventually closed Craft Associates in the late 1970s, due to their unsuccessful aesthetic shift. In the 1970s, Pearsall, along with business partner John Graham, founded a new company, Comfort Designs.
In 2008, Pearsall was nominated for the American Furniture Hall of Fame. He passed away in 2011.