In this illustrated talk, design historian Marilyn F. Friedman will preview her forthcoming book Making America Modern: Interior Design in the 1930s, which chronicles the evolution of modern interior design in the United States during the 1930s. Ms. Friedman will discuss interiors by such design luminaries as Donald Deskey, Paul T. Frankl, Cedric Gibbons, William Lescaze, Raymond Loewy, Tommi Parzinger, Gilbert Rohde, Eugene Schoen, Walter Dorwin Teague, Kem Weber, Joseph Urban, and Russel Wright. She will also highlight the work of lesser-known designers. Interiors to be discussed span the economic spectrum, from those created for wealthy patrons, such as Walter Annenberg, William Paley, and Abby Rockefeller Milton, to those designed with affordability in mind, including private commissions and model rooms for manufacturers, design associations, and museum exhibitions. Ms. Friedman will also profile model homes that highlighted new concepts in design and construction, such as Norman Bel Gedde's House of Tomorrow for Ladie's Home Journal, Frederick Kiesler's Space House for Modernage Furniture Company, Eleanor Le Maire's House of Planes for Abraham & Straus, and the model houses at the 1933 and 1939 world's fairs.
The trajectory of American modern design during the 1930s was far from linear. In rejecting the revivalism that had defined American design during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the designers covered in this talk forged something new, an American movement defined by simplicity, practicality, and comfort that embraced experimentation and variation in materials and style. That conceptual framework was the basis of the midcentury modern design so prevalent in Palm Springs, as well as modern design today.
Marilyn F. Friedman is a design historian whose work focuses on the development and popularization of modern design across America during the 1920s and 30s. Born and educated in New York, Friedman studied design history at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, earning a Master of Arts degree, which led to her first publication Selling Good Design: Promoting the Early Modern Interior (Rizzoli, 2003). She regularly contributes articles to design journals and museum publications, and has lectured throughout the United States, and in England and Canada.