Hairpin Leg Furniture – A Brief History

The Origins Of The Hairpin Leg

Hairpin leg furniture was invented by Henry P. Glass and was born out of war-time spirit and ingenuity, a true war-time invention.  It was created and favoured for the little material required in production whilst retaining the strength of a traditional leg.

Hairpin Leg Furniture

The Start of a Trend

1942 saw the start of this design as part of the Russel Wright ‘American-Way’ collection.

From this came the desire for a new way of creating furniture.  Using fewer materials (which was useful given post-war times) and a completely new style.

Few originals were made but it is unknown if this was down to the lack of materials post-war or the desire to keep the collection limited.

The American-Way “Hairpin Group” was manufactured by Molla Inc, a New York based company known for its production of high-quality patio furniture.

To keep these pieces as good as when they were first manufactured chairs were covered with sailcloth covers.  Legs were made from non-oxidising metal ensuring longevity outdoors especially in coastal patios.

Russell Wright American Way Hairpin Collection

Here is a sketch of an original piece.  A leg lounge chair designed as patio furniture, as all of Glass’ original pieces.  As part of the second of two collections the only modification here was to upgrade from hairpin arm rests to material covered ones.

 Here is one of a few images of an original hairpin chair.  Even today this appears as a very contemporary design many of us would have no issue adding to our homes.

Henry P. Glass has fifty two patents in his name but unbelievably the hairpin leg isn’t one of them!  He even failed to gain recognition for the invention of the ‘Hairpin Group’ until many years after its release.

Since its creation in 1941 one of the most recognisable manufacturers using this design of mid-century modern furniture is Knoll and Eames.  A partnership who are prolific in this style of design and a favourite amongst mid-century modern furniture fans.

Hairpin Legs Today

Making a comeback this style of furniture is high on the agenda for 2017.  With a fantastic collection of this style furniture now available at The Orchard.  The Hairpin collection oozes versatility allowing it to fit in an industrial, mid-century modern or contemporary setting.  We simply can’t get enough of it!


To view the full collection click here:  And also check out our bespoke, made to measure and finish version within our Rustic collection.

Learn how to style this trend here: