November 14, 2015

Furniture trends come and go, so it may surprise you that hairpin legs have been about for over seventy years.

Their inventor, Vienna-born Henry P. Glass, was working in New York for industrial designer Russel Wright when he crafted the world’s first hairpin leg, in 1941.

Materials were scarce during WWII, so designs that used minimal materials were in demand.

Glass’ furniture legs required only a small amount of steel, but remained sturdy and stylish – a true wartime example of form meets function.

Who was Henry P Glass?

Glass was a pretty remarkable fellow.

During the war he was sent to Buchenwald, a Nazi concentration camp where his captors soon realised his talents and made him design a cemetery for Nazi officers.

Later in the war, after immigrating to America, he assisted the US military by drawing a plan of the camp from memory.

Back to hairpins. Once Glass’ unique legs started featuring in the trade press, the trend kicked off and all sorts of furniture pieces started incorporating the hairpin style.

 

Henry P Glass's design
"First documented use of hairpin legs"

A table designed by Glass
Highlights the simple construction of his designs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll find loads of examples here of how Glass’ iconic mid-century pins have inspired furniture designers and DIY-dabblers alike. We’re sure Glass would be proud to be associated with them.

So there we have it. The history of the stylish pegs that withstand weight, weathering, and time.


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