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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Russel Wright

Russel Wright (1904-1976) is considered by some to be the Martha Stewart of the mid-century era.  His affordable designs could be found in almost every middle-class home. Always ahead of other designers, he was the first to design a portable radio, a radio/record player console, sectional upholstered furniture, stove-to-table cookware and dishes and spun aluminum accessories. His wife Mary (1904-1952) helped with marketing, coming up with the term "blonde" for light maple furniture, suggesting to her husband that he sign his pieces, and co-authoring Guide to Easier Living with him in 1950.

Wright was the first to use rattan, hemp rope or wood in informal serving pieces, and his blonde wood furniture became a model for modern design.  He also pioneered the use of aluminum blinds, stainless steel flatware and Melamine in informal tableware.

His Steubenville American Modern china, followed by his Iroquois Casual china, have remained so popular that Oneida manufactured a Russel Wright reissue a few years ago.

I never tire of talking about Russel Wright.  I collect Iroquois Casual china in ripe apricot and avocado yellow, and I can get really passionate discussing it. (I know, I know...I really need to get out more.) I'd love to hear from you about your favorite Wright designs, about things you already have and about things on your wish list.

From The Man Who Was Martha Stewart Back Before She Was by Grace Glueck and Collector's Encyclopedia of Russel Wright by Ann Kerr

Rattan tea cart with spun aluminum canisters

Conant Ball lounge chair

Conant Ball sectional sofa

American Modern china

Iroquois Casual china

Spun aluminum floor lamp

An eBay find...not marked.

I got this spun aluminum lamp on eBay for next to nothing.  I did my homework and found out that some of the early Russel Wright lamps were not marked.  Do you know anything about this lamp? Could it be an early Wright?


  1. I have a Russel Wright China divided serving bowl by Iroquois Avocado in color , I have loved this dish ever since we dug it up in our back yard 15 yrs. ago. Can anyone tell me the age of this dish? It is in beautiful condition.

    1. Iroquois Casual went into production in 1946, and according to Ann Kerr's book, avocado yellow was one of the early colors. Apparently it was not produced throughout the full run of the line, so I'm guessing that it was a late 40s/early 50s color.

  2. Why is Russel Wright's Highlight flatware so hard to find? Do you think people are collecting and not selling or is there just not much out there?