Warren McArthur (1885-1961), whose furniture helped define the glamour of 1930s Art Deco curves, grew up in an environment steeped in support for the advancements of the new age of technology and design. Raised in Chicago, his father was one of the first locals to own a car, and, in 1892, hired Frank Lloyd Wright to design their house. When McArthur moved to Arizona to form what would be a series of business ventures introducing modern aesthetics and philosophies to the Phoenix area, his father funded almost every project. With this support, both financial and inspirational, McArthur was able to create a sizable catalogue of furniture and a number of technological innovations in aluminum furniture production.
McArthur studied mechanical engineering at Cornell, graduating in 1908. Between 1911 and 1914 he filed for no less than ten patents for lamp designs, including one that is still manufactured in a slightly revised version by the Dietz Lantern Co. in Chicago. He moved to Phoenix in 1913 to work with his brother Charles. They started out opening a dozen car dealerships around Arizona, and McArthur developed an adapter for car radiators so that they wouldn't overheat in the desert conditions. Savvy about cross advertising, they created the "Wonder Bus," one of the first recreational vehicles, in order to promote the tourist industry and the newly finished highway system with access to the National Parks. They also started the first radio station in Arizona, the Arizona Museum and the Arizona Biltmore resort designed by their older brother.
In 1929 McArthur went out to Los Angeles to start a metal furniture business. He began making custom pieces but soon began to focus more specifically on creating new methods of joining the pieces together. He developed notched tubes and milled washers with different surfaces, standardized units for manufacturing, and the anodic process that would make aluminum hard and relatively impossible to tarnish. This process allowed him to give his products a lifetime guarantee and also to introduce a coloring technique that yielded dyes that wouldn't crack or chip. The anodic process made the metal porous, and the dyes infiltrated the pores in such a way that they actually became part of the metal, rather than just an outer coat. The cool metal tones that resulted, marketed in shades like Golf Green, Alice Blue and Grenadine, were incredibly popular and soon became a prevalent icon of 1930s Hollywood. Warner Bros. furnished their new theater in McArthur furniture, as did the Ambassador Hotel. His pieces were seen on the sets of movies and in the homes of stars and directors. They were recognizable for their curved tubing and the way he used rounded edges almost more prevalently than right angles. He produced an extensive array of lounges, sofas and end tables that were decorated by the grids and overlaying bars within the framework. He also decorated by using upholstery in dramatic contrasting colors like red and canary yellow, or red and ebony. He designed lounges for outdoor use like the "Sun Fast," advertised in his catalogue as "a dripping chair" that would stand the test of sun and rain. Two of his best-known pieces are the 1932 "Ambassador" armchair and ottoman and the 1933 "Biltmore" chair with an upholstered seat and tubular arm rests. Harassed by financial burdens, as he was continuously after his father's death, he relocated to Rome, New York in 1933 to manufacture his designs.