Models – Getting It Right

Three people, two women standing and a man kneeling, examine an enlarged printout of an archival photograph of Elaine’s room, with furniture in the background.
Textile Conservator Chandra Obie Linn, Curator Amy Dehan, and Consultant R. Mark Adams discussing lines and scale with the dressing table model and original chairs in the background, February 2020.
Photography by Erin Geideman

Curator Amy Dehan and consultant R. Mark Adams worked closely with master furniture maker Terry Moore and master upholsterer Bruno Paulin-Lopez to develop scaled models of the armchair, hassocks, dressing table, and one occasional table. Prior to their work on the Wormser Bedroom reconstruction, each had worked on other restoration projects from the period, developing a keen sense of the lines, materials, and techniques used by Urban’s contemporaries. Their production models of the Urban forms, constructed of Styrofoam, muslin, and plywood, were transported to the museum and checked against existing works and related designs and discussion between the curator, conservators, and artisans, the models were further refined in preparation for creating the final objects.

To re-create Elaine’s armchair, the project team drew information from various sources: the 1930 photograph that included the chair; Elaine’s recorded recollections; a watercolor drawing and a black and white image of a related chair in Joseph Urban’s papers; and the data gleaned from the studies confirming measurements for the room’s elements.

Once the armchair’s frame was built, it was sent to master upholsterer Bruno Paulin-Lopez, who created the soft foundation of the chair, realized its sculpted form, and finished it with new reproduction upholstery.

The reproduction frame of Elaine Wormser’s armchair, seen in profile, partially upholstered.
Recreated armchair shown during upholstery process