Furniture 101: Dorothy Draper Chests

It's rare to find a designer who doesn't love a Dorothy Draper Chest

The most well-known of these, the España Bunching Chest, was designed by Dorothy Draper in the 1950s at the request of the Spanish government who sought to raise the profile of Spanish design in the international market. Originally manufactured by Heritage Furniture Company, this iconic chest is known for its sleek, modern, and glamourous style. It's hard to find a lot of information about the original chest as designed by Draper, but a hallmark of a vintage original is its Cherry frame construction, wavy, gold-leafed lines on front drawers, and a signature stamp inside of the drawers. Vintage chests can be found on Ebay and 1st Dibs at prices ranging from $1100-$3500, while current reproductions (licensed through Kindel Furniture Company) will set you back a cool $5600. Steep? Yes. But this is what you'd call heirloom furniture--something you keep to pass down to future generations--so if you love it, I'd say it's definitely worth it.

The original!

Reproduction from Kindle Furniture

Refinished in juicy orange!

España knock-offs or Dorothy Draper imposters, as they're often known, are almost as sought-after as their genuine counterparts.  If you're not adept at identifying various types of wood (or even plywood from solid wood), the main way you'll know you've stumbled upon an imposter is that the back is unfinished.  This means that, although it may be painted, the back is not finished with the same material as the top & sides and is meant to be placed against a wall or another piece or furniture instead of on display (an authentic España will always have a finished back). The lines on the front of the drawer are less fluid & probably not gold-leafed (though I'm not 100% sure about  this), and there's no stamp on the inside.  Depending on the condition, you can find one of these knock-offs for as little as $50! 

It's an imposter, but I'd love it just the same!

I was lucky enough to find one myself a few weeks ago (it needs refinishing), and though I haven't touched it yet, I'm excited about getting started and finding a place for it in my home (possibly a bedroom).  I'm also on the lookout for another one, so if any of you happen to know of one available or have one you want to sell, please, please email me!

Here's a great time-lapsed video from Kindel Furniture on the construction of the España Bunching Chest. It's a lengthy one, but it's interesting to watch, especially if you enjoy refinishing furniture.  If you really can't stand it, skip to about 5:30 and watch from there. Enjoy!

Also, a big thank you to Sherry Hart of Design Indulgence who gave me a Stylish Blogger award last week--thanks, Sherry!