Few designers did more to influence the appearance of postwar American interiors than the furniture designer Gilbert Rohde (1894–1944). This first in-depth book on Rohde explores how he brought an industrial design perspective to the furniture industry and, in the process, introduced modernism to a broad range of Americans, especially through his modular furnishings.
By tracing his career at the Herman Miller Furniture Company, where Rohde was a designer in the 1930s and 1940s, Phyllis Ross places his work in a broad cultural and economic context. The book shows how Rohde’s focus on comfort, informality, multifunctionality, and flexibility transposed European design antecedents into furnishings suitable for American lifestyles. A champion of modular components, he experimented with new industrial materials, including Plexiglas, and produced furniture with biomorphic forms. Not only did Rohde introduce modern designs, but he also devised a complete merchandising strategy for their promotion.
Today Rohde’s furniture and decorative designs are coveted by collectors. The story of his career rounds out our understanding of his fascinating contributions to American culture.