In 1988, then-fledgling California furniture brand Maria Yee delivered its first order to Gump’s: a museum-quality reproduction of the iconic Ming Dynasty horseshoe armchair. Thirty years later, the chair is still selling, and the bond between the manufacturer and the storied San Francisco mercantile institution endures, quite an achievement considering the era’s volatile business climate.
But together they remain. And to celebrate the anniversary, Gump’s hosted a cocktail reception at its 135 Post Street location to kick off a month-long retrospective exhibition, a forward-looking trunk show of new designs.
“Gump’s was our first customer,” says founder Maria Yee. “They’ve really become integral to our DNA. It’s a friendship we hope will continue far into the next generation.”
Running through March 9, the show-within-a-store charts the evolution of the relationship between maker and seller, beginning with replicas of antique Chinese and Japanese designs, and culminating with current examples of Yee’s signature Cal-contemporary aesthetic.
These recent additions include a range of furniture and lighting fabricated from Lux, a plant-based composite developed by BASF that’s already used for components by automakers like Mercedes-Benz.
In furniture manufacturing, it’s promoted as a lightweight and sustainable raw material, promising superior performance and durability in panels that can weigh up to 90 percent less than MDF.
But back to the next generation—the event also marks the retail launch of Sun at Six, the furniture design studio founded in Brooklyn last year by Yee’s son Antares Yee. Utilizing raw white oak and vegetable-tanned leathers, but no screws or nails, the line is devoted to preserving the ancient art of traditional Chinese joinery, but in a naturally modern vein.