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Arthur Espenet Carpenter Furniture

Arthur Espenet Carpenter (USA, 1920–2006)

The San Francisco area woodworker Arthur Espenet Carpenter was one of the most celebrated figures in the postwar American Studio Furniture movement. Like George Nakashima, Sam Maloof, Wendell Castle and other craftsmen of the era, Carpenter built furniture both as a means of creative expression and for the simple personal fulfillment of making a thing well. The excellence of their work stood in high relief against the mass-produced goods made of synthetic materials that became prevalent in the mid-20th century.


Born in New York City during the Jazz Age, Carpenter earned a degree in economics from Dartmouth College and initially intended to become an accountant, like his father. But after serving four years in the United States Navy in the Pacific during World War II, Carpenter had a change of heart about entering the business world. Back in New York, he became an Asian-arts dealer but finally found a true sense of direction when visiting the “Good Design” shows held in that era at the Museum of Modern Art. Carpenter was particularly taken with the hand-turned wooden bowls by James Prestini and decided he wanted to make objects himself.


To get far from New York, he drove to San Francisco at age 28, bought a lathe and, with the help of a G.I. Bill small-business stipend, opened a woodworking shop in the Mission District. Carpenter started out making bowls, sold through local high-end retailers such as Geary’s. His skills improved, and within a few years Carpenter had moved to the coastal town of Bolinas, California, where he built furniture on commission. His national reputation was sealed when in 1972 — somewhat to Carpenter’s own surprise — his designs were shown by the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in the exhibition “Woodworks,” alongside those of Nakashima, Maloof, Castle and the Philadelphia-area craftsman Wharton Esherick.


Carpenter defined a new design aesthetic now known as the “California roundover” — a style characterized by flowing lines and gently-contoured edges that make wood feel almost supple to the touch. The graceful and comfortable Wishbone chair, so named for the tapered supports that form its legs, is Carpenter’s signature design. The chairs, typically made of black walnut, are usually priced in the range of $20,000 a piece. Because of its simplicity and economy of materials, Carpenter’s furniture works well in any informal, unfussy decor — though it is particularly striking in a modern environment. As you will see on these pages, the work of Arthur Espenet Carpenter is both friendly and exquisite. The quality of its craftsmanship is impeccable, and it exudes the gentle warmth of the lovingly handmade object.

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Arthur Espenet Carpenter, Unique Double-Trunk Table Desk
By Arthur Espenet Carpenter
Located in Chicago, IL
Arthur Espenet Carpenter, unique double-trunk table desk. This extraordinary table is unique to Espenet's work as it deviates from the traditional rectilinear form with its well-f...
Category

1980s American American Craftsman Vintage Arthur Espenet Carpenter Furniture

Materials

Ebony, Mahogany

Signed Arthur Espenet Carpenter Rawhide Stool
By Arthur Espenet Carpenter
Located in New York, NY
Signed, Arthur Espenet carpenter (American, 1920-2006) Rare, Rawhide stool, circa 1972. Rawhide stool was made through a process known as ?“bent lamination,” in which the seat frame...
Category

1970s American American Craftsman Vintage Arthur Espenet Carpenter Furniture

Materials

Wood, Leather

Arthur Espenet Carpenter Dining Table
By Arthur Espenet Carpenter
Located in Chicago, IL
Category

1970s American American Craftsman Vintage Arthur Espenet Carpenter Furniture

Materials

Walnut

Arthur Espenet Carpenter California Dining Chairs
By Arthur Espenet Carpenter
Located in Chicago, IL
Category

1980s American American Craftsman Vintage Arthur Espenet Carpenter Furniture

Materials

Leather, Walnut

Arthur Espenet Carpenter, "Wishbone” Chair circa 1970s, Stamped
By Arthur Espenet Carpenter
Located in Wargrave, Berkshire
Arthur Espenet Carpenter, California, USA, circa early 1970s "Wishbone" chair of African Hyedua and brown leather strapping. Stamped to the underside "Espenet", he chose not to sign ...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Arthur Espenet Carpenter Furniture

Materials

Leather

Arthur Espenet Carpenter Walnut Table with Drawer
By Arthur Espenet Carpenter
Located in San Mateo, CA
Side table in walnut by Arthur Espenet Carpenter, (1920-2006). This table has a single drawer below the top. The solid walnut sides and top are joined with dovetail joints. The runne...
Category

1970s American Vintage Arthur Espenet Carpenter Furniture

Materials

Walnut

Arthur Espenet Carpenter 'Sedua Wishbone' Armchair
By Arthur Espenet Carpenter
Located in Los Angeles, CA
A 'Sedua Wishbone' armchair by Arthur Espenet Carpenter, in walnut with leather straps, circa 1972.  Stamped.
Category

Mid-20th Century Arthur Espenet Carpenter Furniture

Materials

Leather, Walnut

Rare Pair of Wishbone Chairs by Arthur Espenet Carpenter
By Arthur Espenet Carpenter
Located in Atlanta, GA
A rare pair of wishbone armchairs studio made by Arthur Espenet Carpenter (1920-2006), Bolinas, CA. In grained walnut with visible dowel construction, a shaped back that continues in...
Category

1980s American Modern Vintage Arthur Espenet Carpenter Furniture

Materials

Walnut

Rare Arthur Espenet Carpenter Turned Teak Bowl American Studio Craft
By Arthur Espenet Carpenter
Located in Washington, DC
Large turned wood centerpiece bowl. Signed. P.915 Espenet, Siamese teak.
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Arthur Espenet Carpenter Furniture

Materials

Teak

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