Dining Chair

russell spanner DXImage: Design Exchange, Toronto ON

In the 1940s Russell Spanner began working for the wood products company operated by his father, uncle and grandfather in Toronto. After World War II, Russell’s father retired from Spanner Products, and he and his two brothers took over the operation of the factory. Russell began working on some of the “post-war designs” he had been so keen to introduce. His first line of furniture, called Ruspan Originals, embodied the Spanner reputation of being well built and durable. Russell Spanner exploited the battery box-making technology that already existed at the factory to produce furniture that was versatile and endearingly animated. A selection of coloured canvas webbing and furniture finishes gave the consumer considerable flexibility and choice.

An amateur wrestler, Russell was famous for testing his furniture by standing on it at the Canadian Furniture Mart or throwing it across the factory room floor. He designed two more lines of furniture “Catalina” in 1952 and “Pasadena” in 1953 before moving more into contract furniture and later, factory management. The “Catalina” dining chair is one of the most comfortable chairs ever produced. Ruspan furniture exemplifies the ideals of the post war period: sectional units that could be combined in various ways for expanding new families; lightweight and non-upholstered chairs for a lighter look and more open feel; and the glamorous materials, colors and names of California, the land of opportunity for a post war generation.

– Robert Fones “A lecture on the furniture of Russell Spanner”

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