Heywood Wakefield Furniture
History of Heywood Wakefield furniture, the finest quality furniture manufactured in America
Luxury. Comfort. Beauty. These words ring out at the first appearance of lightly stained woods and carefully detailed upholsteries. For almost two centuries, two words could enchant the knowledgeable buyer with visions of the graceful lines and hand-carved beauty of fine furniture. Those two words are Heywood-Wakefield, the nearly legendary makers of America's finest home furnishings, from desks to shelves to bedroom sets.
Although Heywood-Wakefield went out of business in the last half of the twentieth century, its name lingered and its pieces filtered (quickly) through consignment furniture and antique shops throughout the country. Particularly known for their beautiful Heywood-Wakefield Modern line of furniture (done in the Art Deco style of the 1940s and 50s), the company, nevertheless, could not keep up with the rising costs of their hand-built goods. Producing furniture designed by such masters as Gilbert Rohde, Russell Wright, Leo Jiranek, and Ernst Herrman, among others, the furniture became works of art, but was expensive to create from start to finish. As a result, Heywood-Wakefield went out of business in the 1970s.
In the early 1990's, one furniture store, South Beach Furniture, was pleased at how quickly and efficiently they could sell any piece with the Heywood-Wakefield name. They began to actively search out such items because they knew that all of the furniture would command high dollars from the 'Tropical Deco' homeowners of Florida. Eventually, just locating older pieces was not sufficient to fill their demand-customers called them or came in hoping that, at any moment, South Beach Furniture might be able to procure some new piece for their homes. So in 1992, the company bought the Heywood-Wakefield name, even though the company had gone bankrupt long since. They set up a new factory and brought Heywood-Wakefield furniture to new life with a new name: Heywood-Wakefield Steamline.
The old tools and plans of the company had been auctioned off long since to help pay the company's debts, but that was not going to stop South Beach Furniture from reviving the company's glory days. The new furniture couldn't be built on the old company's premises because most of the buildings had been cleared for new development; the last standing factory in Gardener, Massachusetts had been converted into a condominium building. But South Beach re-tooled Heywood-Wakefield and has been selling brand new furniture of the absolute highest quality. From hand carved wood to finely woven upholstery (less than five percent of Heywood-Wakefield upholsteries have printed designs), the Streamline furniture proudly bears the Heywood-Wakefield name and fulfills the promise that the name implies.
It's hard to imagine that any furniture could be finer or more beautiful than the original Heywood-Wakefield designs, but if such things exist, they are the new furniture pieces that Heywood-Wakefield has launched under the auspices of South Beach Furniture. While many of the older pieces remain antique collectibles (for those interested, Heywood-Wakefield Modern Furniture Identification and Value Guide, by Steven and Roger Rouland is considered to be the definitive source on these earlier works), the new line of furniture seems destined to a career at least as illustrious as its predecessor.