Russel Wright: Living with Good Design

Russel Wright was the hip product designer before that cliché was even created. He makes Michael Graves's products for Target and Ikea's simple designs look like imitation, flattering imitation, but imitation nonetheless. Wright worked with the motto "good design is for everyone." That philosophy (and his wife Mary's marketing sense) drove him to create household wares that combined elegance, usefulness, and middle-class appeal. The dishes in his American Modern line were gracefully curved and richly colored while maintaining functionality. Between 1939 and 1959, more than 250 million American Modern pieces were sold, making it the most widely produced dinnerware ever. He used aluminum to craft clean, nearly spherical vases and decanters. Wright's work also went beyond the dinning room. In the 1950s he produced the Easier Living line of furniture. Wright again combined beauty with purpose. His curved easy chairs, for example, sported a small table on the right side and a magazine holder on the left. "Living with Good Design" is the first time Wright's dishes, home decor, and furniture have been displayed in the same place on a national tour. It shows off the spectrum of contributions Wright, who died in 1979, made to American style and design.
Feb. 9-April 20, 2008

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