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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Paul McCobb

Paul McCobb (1917-1969) was a popular American designer who became a household name in the Fifties. He started his career as a designer of retail displays, but he soon turned to the design of furniture, wallpaper, fabric, glassware and ceramics, lighting, radios, televisions, console stereos and even typewriters. His well-made, moderately priced home furnishings became an immediate success, earning him the nickname “America’s decorator."

McCobb was born in Boston, where he received training in fine art at Vesper George School of Art. Although he had no formal training in design, he established his own company, Paul McCobb Design Associates, in 1945. Working with the distributor B. G. Mesberg*, he introduced the Planner Group in 1950, which was followed by the Directional, Predictor Linear and Perimeter lines, all produced by Winchendon Furniture and marketed by McCobb himself.

McCobb’s pieces were not only economical but practical and functional as well, designed to meet the needs of young middle-class families who were furnishing their first homes. For example, he created “living walls,” which were movable room dividers and storage systems. These allowed maximum flexibility and efficient use of limited space in small post-war housing.

McCobb won the MoMA Good Design Award five times between 1950 and 1955, as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Contribution to Better Design award in 1959.

He was design consultant for many leading corporations, including Singer, Alcoa, Goodyear, Columbia Records and Remington Rand. His work has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

From, September 9, 2010, and, September 17, 2010

*According to the Directional, Inc. web site, B. G. "Bud" Mesberg founded that company in 1950 and worked with Paul McCobb, among other well-known designers of the time. The company was operated by the Mesberg family until 1994. Lost City Arts spells the name "Mosberg," and R Gallery spells it "Mersburg," but I believe my spelling to be correct.

(While researching the information for this post, I found a blog by Paul McCobb's daughter, Melissa. You might be interested in reading it:

Planner Group credenza, 1950

Contempri "Eclipse" china by Jackson

Bar cart

CBS-Columbia Model 205C2, 1954

From my mix 'n' match collection
 of Paul McCobb Jackson China restaurantware

Roulette tile for Pomona - Raisa Sandstrom

Starspray tile for Pomona - Raisa Sandstrom

Patterns tile for Pomona - Raisa Sandstrom

Brass table by Calvin Furniture

Sofa by Custom Craft

Planner Group desk and chair


This post originally identified the following room divider as a Paul McCobb design, but it is not.

Room divider by Mark J. Furst and Robert Fellner for Furnett


  1. Hi Dana

    Though I might mention that the room divider from shown is a design by Mark J Furst and Robert Fellner for Furnette :-)

  2. @Jonathan: When your book comes out, there are going to be a lot of disappointed people who thought they were buying Paul McCobb pieces, only to find out that they didn't. As always, though, I'm glad when you point these things out. Every time you "bust a myth," it allows people to make more informed purchases. I don't mind updating my posts at all!