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Where Did Hairpin Legs Come From?

Hairpin legs for chairs and tables have been around for over seventy years and we get asked all the time where the design came from. There is sometimes a bit of confusion about the origin, so today we’re addressing the question: Where did hairpin legs come from? The story begins in 1941, when a young designer named Henry P. Glass agreed to create a line of outdoor furniture with Russel Wright, an established industrial designer. Wright was launching a new collection called “American Way”, and the two teamed up to create something new. The furniture was to be made from wrought iron and Glass created a set of designs that were simple, fresh and caught the eye of many in the furniture world.  The line gathered accolades in furniture trade magazines and Alfred Auerbach, editor in chief of Home Furnishings, referred to the collection as: the “Hairpin Group” because of the unique legs found on the tables and chairs. The hairpin legs designed by Glass marked the beginning of a trend, and many pieces were created with the hairpin style incorporated.

designer of hairpin legs henry p glassoriginal hairpin leg patio furniture

Although Glass patented over fifty of this designs, the hairpin leg style was not patented and has been used by Hans Knoll, Charles Eames and other renowned furniture designers over the ensuing decades. For those of us who are passionate about mid century modern furniture and home accents, we consider this an enormous gift. Henry Glass created a simple, modern design and whether it was by happenstance or with clear intent, the design is not the property of one man or corporation. Here at Modern Legs, we’re still paying homage to the original design, and we’re proud to see so many beautiful pieces of furniture include the hairpin leg style.