As far as American furniture design, after the edge of modernism came rooted in new technological advances, came a desire for easy living spurred by the new technology. At the turn of century, Americans were still embracing and learning how to use technology to enhance their lives and to modernize production, particularly in furniture as the numbers of people worldwide exploded and the demand for quality furniture drastically increased.
In the early part of the century, European greats such as Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer and others heavily influenced modern design. The use of manufacturing, and later increased use of ships and the invention of planes drastically influenced design as more and more designers collaborated on projects and influenced design world-wide. After the technological revolution at the early part of the 20th Century, modern furniture design became a typical part of an American home, whether in Miami, New York, Los Angeles or Chicago.
One American furniture designer that helped increase demand for modern and contemporary furniture was Russel Wright. Known as an American Industrial Designer, Wright emphasized the table as the focus of design and went out from the core of the dining room.
Russel first trained in Cincinnati at the Art Academy before following in his dad’s footsteps by going to Princeton before moving on to New York to become a set designer. New York is where his career took place and flourished despite small town roots. Early on, Wright married his wife Mary Small Einstein, of whom he wrote a book with called “Guide to Easier Living” which focused on reducing housework to increase free time.
Wright’s emphasis was predominantly on easy living that the Americans were starting to get used too. Wright was born in 1904 in Ohio and began designing modern furniture in the late 1920s and really helped shift American homes toward a more modern look with his contributions to modern furniture design in the mid-century.
Wright was definitely most famous for his accessories for the home. From dinnerware (Wright’s plates are some of the most popular in history) to silverware to vases to glasses to cookware to tables, desks, chairs and more, Wright revolutionized American modern design. His signature was trademarked and was on over 250 million dishes across the United States.
By the mid 1950s, Wright was an icon in American homes, and his furniture designs inspired multiple generations as he made affordable modern furniture within reach for the average American. Quality, nice looking dishes and accessories were readily made and the improvements to manufacturing in mid-century likely only increased his reach.