Set designers find 2,000 classic modern tables and chairs for rent at the propshopchicago

When ’60s furniture expert Judyth Jacobs invites you to have a seat, she really means it.

Her company, propshopchicago, has 2,000-pluh tables and chairs for set rentals, contained in a massive 20,000-sq. ft. River North loft space. “It’s the only one of its type in the area,” said Jacobs, whose mother founded the parent company nearly 50 years ago.

What makes it unique are original modern design pieces from 1929 Bauhaus to the Scandinavian furniture revolution of the late ’60s and early ’70s to current trends in furnishings showcased in the vast studio loft.

Furniture that Jacobs refers to as “period stuff” are retro pieces that have been left untouched since their original acquisition. “I don’t believe in knockoffs,” Jacobs said. “Particularly with props, it’s not about cost, it’s about substance.”

“Finding propshopchicago and Judyth Jacobs has become our go to treasure chest. Nobody understands the combination of architecture and furniture, branding and style like Judyth,” said Lisa Lauerman, producer of three award-winning HGTV series.

“Every time we go to her warehouse, we want to sit in every chair and learn about its history. You will never want to leave once you have had the pleasure to step in.”

Jacobs recently began offering her vast storehouse of original modern design to film, TV show and theatre set designers although her family since 1960 has been importing furniture?mostly contemporary chairs and tables?from important Western European manufacturers.

A woman ahead of her time, Jacob’s mother, Ida Stein, was the first female importer of European furnishings in the Midwest when she started Ida Stein & Associates, a furniture import, marketing, and manufacturing business in the Merchandise Mart.

Jacobs said the company typically sold direct containers of furniture to major retail chains, like Bloomingdale’s, Dayton-Hudson, and Carson’s.

Stein’s first actual transaction within the film industry was when actor-comedian Kevin Nealon found a chair for an advertising shoot and later purchased it as a prop for “Saturday Night Live.”

Jacobs said she still gets a kick out of it when she occasionally spots propshopchicago chairs in a movie or TV sitcom.

Jacobs’ superior knowledge of furniture design has been acquired naturally through over 30 years in the business. She is a contributing editor to two European furnishings publications, “Design Diffusion News” and “OFX International,” each with a global readership. She frequently lectures on the subject of furniture design and architecture?most often in Europe.

Propshopchicago is located at 346 N. Justine. Studio visits by appointment only; phone 312/432-1005 or 312/363-7756.