Gilbert Rohde

Modern Design for Modern Living

Phyllis Ross

View Inside Price: $70.00

April 21, 2009
274 pages, 8 1/2 x 10 1/2
144 b/w + 46 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300120646

Out of Print

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.


Phyllis Ross is an independent scholar specializing in 20th-century design.

"Phyllis Ross' new book on Gilbert Rohde, perhaps the most important American furniture designer of the later 1930s and 1940s, presents a great wealth of new material. It is a quantum leap over anything that has been previously published on this seminal figure and makes a significant contribution to the study of American design of the period."—Christopher Long, University of Texas at Austin

"A masterful biography."--Alan Michelson, ARLIS 

“This thoroughly researched book…conveys the appeal and impact of Rohde’s promotion of functional lifestyle spaces for modern Americans.” —Library Journal

“The first comprehensive look at the Bronx native’s brilliant career.” —Elle Décor

“As Ross states in her introduction, ‘A comprehensive appraisal of his diverse career is long overdue.’”—Interior Design

“Meticulously researched, the book chronicles the designer’s life and career.” —Contemporary Collectibles

"A rich, detailed and important story that fills a lacuna in American design history."--Kristina Wilson, Journal of Design History