Marking a Maine Craft Milestone — With a Handmade Chair

A striking new Thos. Moser piece blends new influences with 50 years of woodworking heritage.

Thos. Moser 1972 chair
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In 1972, Tom Moser left his teaching job at Bates College to start a new career, crafting handmade wooden furniture inspired by traditional design. Now, to celebrate 50 years in business, Thos. Moser is releasing an anniversary-edition solid-wood lounge chair, designed by Tom’s son David and appropriately named “1972.”

“A chair is actually very complex,” says Kelsey Wing, director of marketing and creative. The whole process, she says, from the drafting table or monitor to the finished build, can take two years. David envisioned the 1972 chair’s design long before putting pen to paper, but it still took well over a year of prototyping and refining design details to nail the finished product.

Unlike manufacturers of mass-produced furniture, Moser designers prototype early and often, to ensure aspects like arm height and back angle feel comfortable and function correctly. The craftspeople in the company’s Auburn workshop help conduct fit tests for every new design, only then shifting focus to making it aesthetically pleasing. It’s a philosophy that Tom has shared with all the company’s woodworkers and engineers — and that David takes to heart: first, you design for the human.

“The 50th-anniversary chair is an amalgamation of a lot of different influences, both internal and external,” David says. A professional sculptor, many of his works are bronze castings of the human body, which shaped his ergonomic vision for the curved 1972 chair — his designs tend to include more rounded and finely sculpted details, while his dad’s work is more linear. Still, the anniversary chair — the company’s first-ever entirely wooden lounge chair — incorporates design elements often found in classic Moser pieces: for example, contrasting ash spindles and legs, a carved seat, and ship’s-knees supports in place of horizontal stretchers, which helps give the chair a clean, open look without compromising structural integrity.

Ash spindles and legs, a Moser hallmark, provide both structural integrity and comfort. The tensile strength of ash allows the spindles to bend without breaking, hugging and supporting a sitter’s back.

As with all Thos. Moser furniture, the lounge chair includes an india-ink signature of the craftsperson who built it. “It’s our system of checks and balances,” Wing says. “You don’t want to sign your name to anything that is not perfect. If you’re truly proud of this, sign your name to it. That name’s going to be there for a hundred years.”

Directly below the signature, the first fifty 1972 chairs will include an engraved brass inlay commemorating the anniversary. The chairs, individually numbered, will also include a certificate of authenticity signed by both Tom and David. (Once the collector’s edition sells out, Thos. Moser will continue producing the chair but without the numbering and medallion.)

The 1972 chair is a fitting tribute to a company that set out to create high-quality, practical art. Admire it alongside Thos. Moser’s signature piece — the Continuous Arm Chair, which Tom designed some 40 years ago — and both the influence and evolution are clear. “With our furniture,” David says, “we reach into the past, we bring forward old forms, and we give them new relevance.”

To learn more about the history of Thos. Moser and the commemorative 1972 chair, visit