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Jules Heumann - Metropolitan Furniture Imported from San Francisco

- 02 Aug 2016 -
49 posts / 0 new

This is a thread about Jules Heumann and Metropolitan Furniture of San Francisco.

Here are some bit of vintage documentation from around the internet, and a few labeled pieces.



- 02 Aug 2016

California Modern again. An end table in rosewood and walnut. A very unusual combination for american furniture.

- 02 Aug 2016

The same design as the black leather and chrome settee/chair, but this time with walnut legs, and not the original upholstery.

- 02 Aug 2016

Lounge chairs marked Metropolitan Furniture. Presumed to be Jules Heumann designs, but this is not proven.

- 02 Aug 2016

Do Jules Heumann's designs turn up a lot in San Francisco? because they sure don't show up where I live, except for the leather and chrome settee up top, which I happened upon years ago.

- 02 Aug 2016

Brian Kane graduated from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Design. He worked for several New York City design studios and spent a year in Milan, Italy. After returning to the U.S., he worked in New York for Atelier International (A.I.), and joined Metropolitan Furniture Corporation (Metro) in January 1977.

Less than three years later, he became one of four partners assuming ownership of the company and took on the responsibilities of Vice President of Design and Product Development. In 1987, Metropolitan was acquired by Steelcase. For the next two years, Kane maintained his position as Vice President and was responsible for all aspects of Metro's design, including products, showrooms and graphics.

- 14 Sep 2016

Jules "J" Heumann is my great-uncle - he's the brother of my Grandfather Syl. The two of them ran Metropolitan for many years. J is still around and I'm sure would be thrilled to learn that there's interest in Metro and his design work - if you have any questions for him that you want me to pass along, post them here!

- 15 Sep 2016

Well, we would love to see his old drawings, catalogs, etc. It seems he designed a lot of furniture, but I feel certain most of it that turns up goes unappreciated as nice, generic Mid Century Modern, because it is not recognize as part of his body of work.

I found a few more Jules Heumann pieces and a bio (which makes it pretty certain that is Jules' car up above):

- 15 Sep 2016

Here is the text of his bio:

JULES M. HEUMANN, a native San Franciscan, was born into a furniture manufacturing family. Jules studied architecture at the University of California, graduating in 1944, when he joined the United States Navy as an officer and served in the Pacific theater until the end of the war. Returning to California, he then joined his father in the family business and upon the passing of his father in 1949, with his brother, they took over the active ownership. Married, and father of two Native Daughters, he spends some of his spare time restoring classic cars. With his architectural background training and a keen interest and knowledge of the intricacies of manufacturing, Jules brings to his furniture designs a sense of scale and proportion which results in beauty and comfort. His "WEEKENDER", shown in this issue is being produced under franchise agreement in several countries. Currently he is designing several new groups using molded plywood, aluminum and plastic for the contract field

- 05 Jun 2017

Quite a few years ago I acquired a Metropolitan Couch & Charis set off eBay. I couldn't resist it because of it's fabulous Alexander Girard fabric. I was told it was sold in 1973 off the showroom floor to a buyer from Hollywood but I'd like to confirm that if at all possible. Also, curious if there's any other info about this particular set I should know about. Is it a one-off? I'm getting ready to reupholster it (it's in really rough shape now) and want to make sure I don't make any misstep in the process. Any information about it would be appreciated! Thank you.

- 05 Oct 2017

I have a chair that I recently discovered was made Metropolitan Furniture Company... How do I go about finding more information on it, such as a designer or date range it was made? I am not even sure what this exact style of chair is called (...though I do know, sadly, it needs reupholstered given the tears to the original fabric...)

I am new to this site, so I will try to add photos -- Thanks for any expertise out there as I would love to know more history about this chair :)

- 06 Oct 2017

There isn't a lot of information out there about Metropolitan. You will probably have to find a catalog.

- 06 Oct 2017

Thanks, Leif. As a long-time San Franciscan I should be familiar with this story.

Now to dig in, and catch up . . . !

- 10 Nov 2017

Does anyone know who designed this Metropolitan chair from 1990 ? Would it be Brian Kane?Thanks for the help .

- 10 Nov 2017

Does anyone know who designed this Metropolitan chair from 1990 ? Would it be Brian Kane?Thanks for the help .

- 11 Nov 2017

....had this nice pair of Metropolitan club chairs last year........I'm guessing they were manufactured early 80's or so........excellent quality construction, original maharam fabric in "russet", solid walnut block feet....

.....unsure as to whether they're a Heumann design, could not ever find documentation..

- 23 Jun 2018

Recent closet cleaning unearthed my 1989 Metropolitan Price List, as well as an old catalog. There may be answers to a number of questions in there, but this is in response to SpaceOdditySeattle about the Metropolitan 720 chairs. Yes, those were designed by Brian Kane and given the name "Belvedere". List price in April 1989 was $1548 USD + 6.5 yards fabric. So if you're still reading here, I hope this helps! Picture of the catalog page follows.

- 23 Jun 2018

...and for WCharles4: I think your chairs are #238, Palette, designed by Jay. That's not in the 1989 price book so it was probably discontinued by then. But here it is in the catalog:

- 23 Jun 2018

That's very generous of you to share wheumann! I assume you're a relative also?

- 23 Jun 2018

Yes - J was my uncle, and sadly passed away in December. I worked at the Metropolitan showroom for a short time in the 80's, which is why I had a catalog & price list. Now that I found them, I'll hang onto 'em.

- 24 Jun 2018

thank you for sharing wheumann, and I'm very sorry to hear of your uncle's passing..........I'm a big fan of his work.

- 24 Jun 2018

Thanks. So nice to know his work is still appreciated.

- 08 Jul 2018

Wanted to post these pictures of my newly acquired Metropolitan Furniture sofa/console table to this thread. There is a 2016 thread on Design Addict inquiring about a metal-topped round coffee table that is similar in design to my table, and I have seen similar on various internet websites. The signature on the metal generally seems to be attributed to "G. Urs" or "G. Urso" and the tables I've found generally do not have a Metropolitan Furniture label.

Question: does anyone know if these tables were designed by Jules Heumann for Metropolitan? In my research I can't find table designs attributed to him. The photo of the signature is from the 2016 thread, the following 3 pics are of my console table. Thank you for the help!

- 13 Jul 2018

I have the same console table! Yes, the tables were designed by Jules Heumann. The tops were imported from Italy, but I don't know the details of how that came about, or who the artists were. I'll check with family and get back to you...

Update 7/13: my cousin and I vaguely remember that her father (Jules, a.k.a. "J") found this metal work on a trip to Italy. She said they had them made to order as table tops, and the tables were made here. I have a small round one as well, but neither is signed. Both Metropolitan brothers had large rectangular versions of these table tops hanging as art pieces on outdoor walls. Too bad we don't know who the artists were. I think the designs are timeless.

This is my other one (18" diameter)

- 10 Jul 2018

So cool that you have this table, too! I love it. I was unfamiliar with Metropolitan Furniture until I started researching. There seems to be more info on the seating pieces online. Many of the same tables that I found were unmarked with paper labels and therefore not attributed to MF or Jules Heumann. The acid etched metal tops in photos are marked Made in Italy & signed (although mine - maybe yours? - is not). I was hoping that only the tops were imported and that JH designed the tables, and I'm excited to learn that that is true.

Just fyi, I live in the Detroit, MI area and found the console table at an estate sale. Now I'm on the hunt for more pieces. I appreciate your response and anything your family may remember. Thank you!

Added Sunday, July 15:
Thank you for the follow up from you & your cousin. Love the round table that you have & I agree that the metalwork would be fabulous hanging on a wall. Appreciate that you're sharing your knowledge with us!

- 13 Jul 2018

I'm in the Boston area, and had never heard of Metropolitan before I saw this loveseat, but recognized it as high quality. It has a date of Nov. 22, 1974 on the tag. Any chance this is by your uncle also? (Thanks so much for participating!!)

- 13 Jul 2018

I don't recognize the sofa but the label certainly indicates that it was manufactured by Metropolitan. It was probably designed by J Heumann, but might possibly have been designed by John Stuart International? Hard to tell. Anyway, how amazing to find a 44 year old sofa that's still in good condition! They did pride themselves on producing top quality furniture, and comfort was J's top priority so enjoy it.

- 14 Jul 2018

The heavy woven textile/upholstery is nice too. I don't know if it is but it reminds me of one of those heavy weave Knoll textiles & it is good that these are zippered for easier removal (?) for cleaning & back.

- 14 Jul 2018

Metropolitan for John Stuart -- that's interesting. How many famous labels did the company support ?

- 15 Jul 2018

I don't know anything about Metropolitan doing private label manufacturing, but the tag posted above said "Made expressly for John Stuart International Inc" so apparently there was at least one :-)

- 10 Aug 2018

wheumann (and LuAnne)- my sis and I inherited several very nice pieces of furniture with Metropolitan tags, AND one of the metal top tables you describe above! We are excited to learn more about them. They were custom orders from Metropolitan in 1973. I can supply photos. Anything you could tell us or catalog photos would be appreciated. We need advice on whether to sell "as is" (upholstery showing deterioration on some pieces) etc. or to re-upholster first. Also, there is very minor water damage on the metal table top, from moisture under a plant. 6" circle discolored slightly. Any ideas on how to handle this? It is very slight, but noticeable. Thanks!

- 16 Aug 2018

Can you post pictures of your furniture? Helps to have a visual reference. Thanks!

- 04 Dec 2018

Hello again, J

LuAnne- I just now, months later, remembered to check this blog for response to my earlier post. I will take photos and post them as soon as I can. Thanks. jtaber

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