Modern Furniture

Twentieth 20th Century Finishes have limited lives

Refinishing is often the most dramatic procedure of restoration. Refinishing can be as unobtrusive as touching-up scratches or damages on-site, or might require the complete removal of existing finish, dyeing and staining and application of a new finish. If an original finish can be maintained, that is often the preferred alternative. However, finishes used from the very beginning of the 20th century until its end were mostly nitrocellulose lacquer, or later derivatives of lacquer or other catalyzed finishes. These modern finishes contain plasticizers that evaporate out of the finish over a period of decades, and when the plasticizer is gone, the finish is brittle, heat marks badly, loses adhesion with the wood beneath, and generally performs poorly in use. Such finishes are often better being removed than trying to save. Any finish put over the top of such a brittle finish, will transmit its problems through any new finish put over them. It might look alright for some months, but when seasonal humidity changes induce additional checking or crack marks in the finish below, will transmit right through the new finish, and will look worse than the defects did on the original finish.

Old Water Stains and Discoloration may be completely removed chemically-

Old water stains, appearing as black blemishes in the wood, may be removed chemically with the proper acid, that might not be removable by sanding. Such stains can be removed without altering the patina of the furniture, and can dramatically improve the appearance.

Historic Finishes like French Polish rarely found in Modern Furniture

Other historic finishes, such as French polish (shellac applied by special technique), or wax, may often be refurbished, a preferable alternative especially for 18th or 19th century American furniture. An old French polished piece can be so oxidized that it looks like it was painted black, and then in a fire with the finish checked (“alligatored”), and can still be an excellent candidate for refurbishing rather than stripping and refinishing. But it is rarely found on modern furniture. Wax can also be maintained indefinitely. Oil & wax finishes were used for Danish Modern Furniture of the 1960’s-1980’s. Oil finishes tend to wear off and dry out, and allow the wood to turn gray from bacterial discoloration. The gray can be removed chemically without having to sand and ruin the patina of the furniture.

Meticulous Stripping & Sanding Preparation is Necessary for a Fine, Durable Refinished Piece-

Skillful refinishing depends on skillful preparation. If the finish is not removed thoroughly, the new finish will not last as it should and be susceptible to loss of adhesion, cloudiness or flaking off of the finish. Sanding is another critical issue. Sanding the wood thoroughly will remove wood bleached over the years of exposure to light, and erases the patina of the furniture. Sanding can make the furniture look new, no matter how old the furniture is. Sanding is a critical question to discuss with the client, to attain results anticipated. Stripping is done by hand application with enzyme-active strippers, n-n-1-pyrollidone, for an ecologically attractive green alternative to methylene chloride active finishes. Stripping should never be done by dipping in a tank, filled with a hot lye solution. The tank ingredients will dissolve all glue, raise grain, and ruins joinery, and turns wood a gray color permeating the wood.

Classically Trained Artists are crucial to Fine Furniture Refinishing

Staining and dyeing are also key elements in successful refinishing. By combining the use of dyes and stains, an antique patina may be reproduced and very difficult for an expert to discriminate between an original finish, and refinished wood. We employ European artists trained as classical artists in four or five-year European college level art schools, that possess exceptional abilities in color matching, and graining damaged or replacement wood elements, to blend in Dutchman inlays with adjacent wood. Our artists are key factors in our being able to say, “if you can see repair work, then it has not been well done”, for under the hands of a skilled cabinetmaker/restorer and a touch-up artist, damages disappear.

Olek Lejbzon & Co. refinishes all Modern Designers and Manufacturers Furniture

Our expertise includes the repair and refinishing of modern fiberglass , wood, and metal furniture by Designers or Manufacturers’ furniture we have refinished includes in part: Herman Miller, Arne Jacobsen, George Nelson, Pierre Paulin, Jean Prouve, Vladimir Kagan, Eero Aarnio, Cassina, B & B Italia, Artifort, Stendig, Ron Arad, Tom Dixon, Gehry, Gaetano Pesce, Vigo Magistretti, Ettore Sottsass, Mario Bellini, Verner Panton, Wendell Castle, Olivier Mourgue, Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, Tobia Scarpa, Gerrit Rietveld, George Nakashima, Warren Plattner, Geoffrey Harcourt, Joe Columbo, Charlotte Perriand, Eero Saarinen, Franco Albini, Marco Zanuso, Gio Ponti, Poul Kjaerholm, Sari Yanagi, Isamu Noguchi, Aalvar Aalto, Norman Cherner, Harry Bertoia, Erwine & Estelle Laverne, Frank Lloyd Wright, Edward J. Wormley, Eva Zeisel, Robbsjohn Gibbings, Jens Risom, Eileen Gray, Bruno Mathsson, Marcel Breuer, Russell Wright, Le Corbusier, Ludwig mies van der Rohe, Charles Rene McIntosh, Josef Hoffmann, Otto Wagner, Antonio Gaudi, Emile Galle, Louis Majorelle, Michael Thonet, and Carlo Mollino. and other notable designers and manufacturers.

What type of Finish should be used when Refinishing?

Lastly, the selection of a finish is important to the client for the furniture to stand up to its intended use without damage. The unique usage pattern for each piece a client owns, and the clients’ preferred appearance determines whether a regular lacquer finish Is appropriate, or a French polish finish, polyurethane, compounded “piano finish”, oil, wax, epoxy, polyester, or other finish. Our shop has the ability to work with any of these finishes, as well as other specialty decorative finishes, including faux marble, faux wood, trompe l’oeil, Oriental Lacquer, and gilding.

Modern Furniture Refinishing Gallery