Upon Handley's death in 1926, David Robertson Smith took over as designer. Smith had worked for the famous Stickley Brothers Furniture Company, producing Arts and Crafts lines. In 1928 he led Johnson Furniture Company into the production of Art Deco and modern pieces. The company would later claim that they produced the first complete line of modern furniture in the United States.
Lorenzo (Renzo) Rutili was made head designer in 1933 and served in that capacity into the 1960s. He personally designed groups of modern furniture for the company, and he oversaw the contracted design of such famous modernists as Paul Frankl, Eliel Saarinen, Eva Lisa (Pipsan) Saarinen Swanson and J. Robert F. Swanson.
Under Rutili,, Johnson introduced a modular system for the home known as Flexible Home Arrangement (FHA), which was designed in 1939 by Saarinen and the two Swansons of the Cranbrook Institute. In the early 1950s Johnson produced several lines by Paul Frankl, such as the Contemporary line, made from pearwood with bleached cork countertops aand chairs with "plunging necklines," cutout backs that resembled the women's fashions of the day. Also in the 1950s, lines such as Country Directoire, Mediterranean and Riviera were designed by John Wisner.
In 1963 the last member of the Johnson family retired and sold the company to a group of investors under the leadership of James Van Oosten. Johnson Furniture was owned by Holiday Inns, Inc., between 1968 and 1975 and then returned to the ownership of Van Oosten. In 1983 the company merged with Rose Manufacturing Company to become RoseJohnson, Inc.
The company used a logo consisting of three teardrops spiraling around a common center, a sort of three-part yin and yang. This symbol commonly appears as a metal tag inside the right-hand drawer of case pieces, or on a paper label affixed to the back of a case piece or under the seat of a chair. Some paper labels between 1908 and circa 1930 also include a box with the printed signature “T.S. Handley”. In the 1960s the company name was printed in uppercase serif letters, with a crown resting on the “J”. During the late 1960s and early 1970s the trademark was a bold “J” over a small red dot.
|Cork and mahogany table with Plunging Neckline chairs by Paul Frankl|
|Paul Frankl lacquered cork coffee table|
|Chest by Eliel Saarinen and Pipsan Saarinen Swanson|
|White enamel chest by Eliel Saarinen and Pipsan Saarinen Swanson|
|Renzo Rutili dining table|
|Renzo Rutili cabinet|
|Renzo Rutili cabinet|
|Johnson Furniture Company marks|