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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gilbert Rohde

Gilbert Rohde
Gilbert Rohde (1894-1944) was the son of a New York cabinetmaker who became one of the most influential furniture designers of his time. Though not a household name today, he is the designer behind many of the names that we do know today.

In 1923 Rohde turned one of his first job experiences as a political cartoonist into a job illustrating furniture for the Abraham and Strauss department store. He soon turned that talent into furniture design, selling his early work to Lord and Taylor. His style at that time combined the simplicity and rationalism of Bauhaus design with the sense of form and ornamentation of Art Deco, working mainly in Bakelite and chrome.

In 1930 Heywood-Wakefield began using his designs. He had great success with a bentwood chair he designed for the company. In that year, he attracted the attention of Herman Miller, which at that time was on the brink of bankruptcy, because their traditional pieces and historical reproductions were no longer selling. He convinced them that modernism was the way they needed to go, so in a desperate effort to stay in business, they showed his designs for bedroom furniture at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. With their updated image, they stopped producing traditional pieces and began to have Rohde design entire sets of living and dining room furniture. He acted as a design consultant for the company from 1932-1944.

During that time, he designed chrome furniture for the Troy Sunshade Company and also worked for Thonet. His work was exhibited at the MoMA in 1934 and at the New York World's Fair in 1939. He was director of the Design Laboratory in New York from 1935-1938 and was head of the Industrial Design department at  the NYU School of Architecture from 1939-1943.


Heywood Wakefield bentwood chairs
Sofa table for Troy Sunshade Company
Lounge chair and ottoman for Herman Miller
Kidney-shaped desk for Herman Miller
Lounge chair for Troy Sunshade Company
Paldao table for Herman Miller
Three-seater sofa for Troy Sunshade Company
Desk lamp for Mutual-Sunset Lamp Company
Paldao end tables
Coffee table for Troy Sunshade Company
Sofa bed for Herman Miller


  1. If I'd seen some of those in an antique mall I'd have thought '80s. Not crazy 'bout the chrome but something about the kidney shape makes me want to pet the pretty furniture.

  2. @DearHelenHartman: I'm sure not crazy about chrome and glass, but there's something about chrome and leather or upholstery fabric that kinda appeals to me. I guess it goes to show there's nothing new under the sun, because I can sure see these in the 80s. Hard to believe they're from the 30s and 40s.

  3. Oooo that kidney shaped desk!!

    ***You do NOT need another desk*You do NOT need another desk**** lol I see so many I want!!!

    Yes and you can see the 30's influence in some of those pieces... The "club" chair and ottoman, the arms on the sofa bed...

  4. I am panting for breath..owow! the Paldao end it heaven orwhat