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From the archives: Sam Maloof still looms large a decade later

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As the newly minted editor, this was on my bucket list: Get Sam Maloof for the cover. So senior writer Brian Caldwell picked up the phone and made it happen. Just like that.

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Maloof, who was 89 at the time, couldn’t have been more gracious. He invited Brian to his home and shop in Alta Loma, Calif., and spent the better part of a day regaling him with stories. Imagine that? He also posed for several photos and I had no trouble picking the lead for our September 2005 issue. He’s standing inside his front gate, showing the hands that created so much great furniture, over the caption, “Still rockin’.”

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In the story, Maloof talked about being satisfied with 10 more good years to continue designing and building furniture. He only got four more, dying at 93 on May 21, 2009. You can find the entire story at, but here are some of the more memorable quotes:

• “In chairs, I have a mental drawing in my head of what I want to do and I’ll go ahead and make the chair. A lot of times I don’t make sketches. I sketch in my head as I’m making it.”

• “I make chairs to suit me and not the client. I design them for myself and they just seem to work out. I don’t think I’ve ever made a chair that I didn’t think was comfortable to me. I’ve refined my designs over the years, but I’ve never followed ads or trends. I’ve been my own person.

• “One man said to me that I was going down the wrong track trying to make handmade furniture, it just doesn’t work. I said if Charles Eames wants to design bowls out of plastic and sell them by the thousands, I think that’s his privilege. As for me, I’d rather make individual pieces, starving at the same time, you know?

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“I’m still making my same stuff while so many woodworkers, potters, whatever, keep changing and I felt that I had to be true to myself and I wanted to do what I do and not what somebody else was doing.”

I’m still humbled that we got Sam Maloof for the cover. And I’m mystified that I haven’t had the issue framed to hang in my office. As we celebrate 30 years in publishing, this is certainly one of our crowning achievements and one I’ll always cherish.

This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue.

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