Just In: A Maloof Cradle

September 16, 2020
Sam Maloof| Freestanding cradle| Executed 2007 | Est. $20,000-30,000

Babies do not wait. —Sam Maloof

Legendary for his exquisite design and craftsmanship, Southern California woodworker Sam Maloof completed his first-ever cradle in 1966. Under pressure to contribute to a bed-themed exhibition organized by the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, Maloof chose to create something that “would prove immediately useful at home afterwards” — at the time, his son Slimen and wife Kathryn were expecting a baby. A firm believer in the entanglements of life and craft, Maloof made this first “cradle-hutch” to maximize the small space where the family was living — Maloof’s guest house — and featured ample storage space surrounding the built-in rocking crib.

            In the mid-1970s, Maloof introduced his freestanding swinging cradle, which proved to be a more popular design than the hutch. As Jeremy Adamson writes in The Furniture of Sam Maloof, “With its ten curved ribs, the swinging unit looked like  the hull of a small vessel, its planking removed.” Maloof had made 11 of this design by 2000; he made this particular black walnut and ebony cradle, just arrived to the LAMA showroom, in 2007.

            Maloof acknowledged the sculptural qualities of his functional works and was not one to rush his process — however, he was known to adjust his schedule to make cradles. As Maloof himself put it, “I try to be very careful how I reply to customers regarding delivery. I usually say that it will take a year or more but try not to be pinned down. There are exceptions. For example, babies do not wait, and I usually drop whatever I am doing to be sure that an order for a cradle is delivered on time.”

            With astonishingly smooth surfaces and joinery, the Maloof cradle integrates the craftsman’s careful consideration of every detail with his overall philosophies of woodworking, life, and indeed, birth: “In making each new piece, a renewal takes place.”


Adamson, Jeremy. The Furniture of Sam Maloof. Smithsonian American Art Museum, W.W. Norton & Company. 2001.

Maloof, Sam. Sam Maloof; Woodworker. Kodansha International Ltd. New York. 1983.

Sam Maloof
Freestanding cradle
Executed 2007
Walnut and ebony
Inscribed “No. 20 May 2007/Sam Maloof/M.J. L.W. D.W./D.F.A. R.I.S.D.”
50.75″ x 49″ x 32.25″

Estimate: $20,000–$30,000
October 18, 2020 Modern Art & Design Auction

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