For Immediate Release: Pre-Orders Open on Kickstarter

The Center for Art in Wood, in partnership with The Emil Milan Research Project, is publishing the first illustrated biography of legendary artist, designer, and woodworker Emil Milan

Available on Kickstarter through December 8, 2017 


Philadelphia, PA — October 17, 2017: After more than a decade of research, including more than three years of writing, editing, design, photography, and illustration, The Center for Art in Wood (Philadelphia, PA), along with the Emil Milan Research Project, and WonderFull Design (Minneapolis, MN) has launched a Kickstarter campaign to publish the highly anticipated biography of Emil Milan (American, 1922–1985) — a highly influential designer, artist, and craftsman who was a major contributor to the studio craft movement in the 1950s and 60s. Milan’s signature designs of bird sculptures and fish- and leaf-shaped bowls, trays, and serving ware represent the very essence of midcentury modern design. The publication, Emil Milan Midcentury Master, is filled with history, stories, artifacts, and photographs — along with the largest collection of Milan’s work, including dozens of his finest creations. The book also contains insight into the late artist’s process, methods, and teaching practices.

The Kickstarter campaign launched on the morning of October 17, 2017 and is fueled by a passionate group of Emil Milan students, devotees, and followers who aim to share Milan’s story with a broad audience and elevate him to his rightful place in American art history.

Emil Milan stood with now legendary artists and designers like Wharton Esherick, Sam Maloof, Wendell Castle, Charles Eames, George Nakashima, and Bob Stocksdale (among others) in the most important exhibitions of fine craft in America. His wares were tailored for and sold in high-end retailers such as Hammacher Schlemmer, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the original Pottery Barn store in Manhattan. Milan was also a teacher, mentor, and role model for dozens of successful artists and woodworkers who found inspiration in his classes.

Emil Milan and his work were influential beyond measure and this publication fills a void in art and design history. Here is a link to our press kit for more information

If you would be interested in featuring a story or post on Emil Milan, we are also happy to provide more tailored, custom content along with handpicked images, excerpts and/or sample spreads.

About The Project, Author and Publisher:

The Emil Milan Research Project has been a decade-long passion project between four artists, all connected to Emil Milan. In February of 2008, artist Norm Sartorius initiated The Project. He wanted to learn more about the roots of his own work by investigating the life and work of his earliest influence, Emil Milan, whom he never met. At first the goal was documentation alone, the collection of biographical information where little was available. It quickly became clear that Milan’s role as an artist had been significant and The Project’s mission evolved to include exhibitions, new museum acquisitions, and eventually a definitive publication on the life and work of this important American artist. 

The Emil Milan Research Team

Author, Craig Edelbrock, was born in Portland, Oregon and holds a bachelor's degree from Western Washington State College and a doctorate from Oregon State University. The author of more than 100 research articles and academic publications, he is a Professor and Dean at the University of Alabama. Craig is also a woodturner and spoon carver under the mentorship of Norm Sartorius. Because of this lineage, he considers Emil Milan his “great grandfather in craft.” He is passionately interested in the evolution and current status of both folk art and fine craft in America. He has served on the Boards of the Wharton Esherick Museum, The Center for Art in Wood, and the Collectors of Wood Art. Craig initiated, designed, and hosted the solo exhibit of Emil Milan’s work at the Henry Gallery in Malvern, PA in 2014. Working collaboratively with the team, he created the Wikipedia article on Emil Milan and wrote the text for Emil Milan: Midcentury Master.

Publisher, Albert LeCoff, is the Co-Founder and Executive Director, Center for Art in Wood, Philadelphia. For at least four decades, Albert LeCoff, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Art in Wood, has been involved in wood art as a turner and organizing creator of opportunities for artists who express themselves in turnings and sculptures. Albert and his associates at the Center have generated scores of exhibitions and their documentations that explore the evolving field of art in wood, and occasionally other materials. For the Emil Milan Research Project, Albert encouraged and helped shape the production of the comprehensive exposition and appreciation of Emil Milan’s life, work, and inspiration.

Designers, Dan Saal & Erika Brask of WonderFull Design are multi-disciplinary designers with a passion for storytelling. For more than 20 years, they have each collaborated with clients and artists all over the world, bringing their unique stories to life. With each project, the pair thoughtfully pushes the boundaries of viewer experience and relevancy. Their passion for helping clients tell stories has expanded to include both design and self-publishing management. Their expertise helps elevate the work of artists who may not have the resources of a major publisher, institution, or endowment. They are also collectors of Emil Milan’s work.

Emil Milan Research Team Publishes "Emil Milan" Wikipedia Page

In March of 2015 Craig Edelbrock, the fourth member of the Emil Milan Research Team, began developing a Wikipedia page for Emil Milan. There are many many rules to follow and posting on Wikipedia turned out to be a substantial challenge. Craig worked through those challenges and in late May, 2015 the Emil Milan page was approved and became public.  

Wikipedia is one of the most common sources of information today. The quality of information is dependent on the thoroughness of its authors. 

Connecting Circles: The art, craft, and design of Emil Milan


January 15, 2015

The Center for Art in Wood held an educational symposium at WHYY in The Dorrance H. Hamilton Public Media Commons in January 2015. This was the first symposium to address the work of Emil Milan and his circle of influence. The fruits of the research project were conducted by Barry Gordon, Phil Jurus and Norm Sartorius as well as the input of leading scholars in the field of Craft History. All were brought together to highlight the importance of Emil Milan in the worlds of craft, design and art during the second half of the 20th Century.

The symposium was geared toward both those newly interested in the field as well as artists, scholars and educators.

Emil Milan: Midcentury Designer Craftsman

The first exhibition since his death, showing more than 80 of Emil Milan's greatest works.

Penn State Great Valley
Henry Gallery
Malvern, PA
On view M–F 9am–5pm
June 9 – September 26, 2014

Born in 1922 in New Jersey, Milan moved to northeastern Pennsylvania in 1962. From the late 1960's to the early 1970's, he was part of the Penn State Cooperative Extension Service Program which sent master crafts artists all over the state to teach with the hopes of improving the "industry" of craft for the benefit of the Pennsylvania economy.

A master at using the bandsaw, Milan was also an expert of elegant carved organic objects. This is the first exhibition of Milan's work since his death in 1985 and only his second one-man show.

WOODWORK magazine, Issue 65

Woodwork magazine published a four-page article about Emil Milan, illustrated with 14 images. In February 2008, the authors began to create a biography and archive for Emil Milan. This article serves as the starting point for the fully conceived biography of Milan's life and work.