How Did Sam Maloof's Rocker Inspire Us with That First Glance?

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Blog entry by Charles Brock posted 02-18-2011 03:08 PM 5354 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

What makes Sam Maloof’s work so attractive at first glance? When I saw my first picture of his rocker in the old 1983 article in Fine Woodworking, What jumped out at me and said, “Wow”? What inspired all that has been said and done by woodworkers and lovers of fine furniture based on that initial look at his rocker?

Maloof was a master woodworker, designer, finisher, personality and other things wonderful but my thought is to capture all of us so totally with that first glance he used something strong, powerful and quite probably unintentional. Maloof was a master of designing the lines of his chairs around a series of flattened “S” curves. The “S” curve is also called a cyma curve or a french curve among other names.

The allure of the “S” Curve may be based on the power of the human form. Yes it is sensuous. A kind of rough southern gentleman saw my Maloof inspired rocker and exclaimed, “The seat on that chair looks like my wife’s ** looked when we got married”! I know he was on to something.

Sam’s chairs are a series of almost continuous “S” curves. Looking at the rocker from almost any position the curves are long open , reversing radii that just make you feel good as they seem to resolve themselves with a gentle reverse just like the resolution of returning to the major chord in a musical composition. Rarely did he use a tight radius.

The easiest example to observe is the flow of the rocker sleds as they reverse from a 42” radius. Study pictures of his work and you will see! For starters observe one of his arms and a leg from his high back dining chair. How many “S” curves do you see?

My website features my instructional dvd rocker and low back bundles along with seven day maloof inspired rocker workshops.

-- Charles Brock

2 comments so far

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1628 posts in 5056 days

#1 posted 02-18-2011 08:12 PM

The first thing I noticed the S curve of the rockers, how the bend down at the back. After this post I now have another perspective, thanks for sharing this Charles.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4425 days

#2 posted 02-18-2011 08:27 PM

I personnaly think it’s his own personnality that was attracting people much more than the chairs. Many people produced wondefull chairs.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

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