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Gilbert Rohde Furniture

American, 1894-1944

Pioneering self-taught industrial designer, writer and teacher Gilbert Rohde helped define the earliest phase of modernism in the United States. He is one of the most influential figures of 20th-century design and is credited with helping legendary mid-century modern furniture manufacturer Herman Miller avert financial disaster during the Great Depression.

Born in New York City, Rohde studied painting at the Art Students League after high school. He found lucrative employment, first as a political cartoonist and then as a catalog illustrator for American department stores. He was particularly enthralled with drawing furnished interiors.

Rohde began to design furniture in his spare time. He traveled to the Bauhaus school in Germany and the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris, and drew on the Art Deco movement and the work of designers such as Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann in his early pieces. Rohde opened his own studio in 1929 and secured private and commercial commissions. His clients would come to include formidable furniture makers Heywood-Wakefield and Troy Sunshade, and his innovative bentwood furnishings for them were practical and intended for the modern consumer.

In 1930, Rohde met Herman Miller founder D.J. De Pree in the company’s Michigan showroom during a business trip. By then, Rohde had a long list of prominent clients and his furniture had been exhibited in museums and galleries. Herman Miller was weathering a devastating slowdown in business, and the American furniture industry had generally been hit hard by the Great Depression.

Rohde boldly informed De Pree that the brand’s furniture had become outdated, which was part of the reason the company was in financial jeopardy. Homes had become smaller and could no longer accommodate the large Gothic– and Victorian–style furnishings and traditional reproductions of period bedroom suites that Herman Miller was offering at the time, Rohde explained.

Rohde secured a contract to design for the Michigan manufacturer. He championed the use of exotic woods and tubular steel, and created streamlined, unadorned bedroom furniture for Herman Miller — collections that included convenient vanities, which were unconventional pieces for De Pree’s company back then.

In 1933, Rohde oversaw the design of two bedrooms featuring sleek Herman Miller furniture — including innovative storage pieces he designed — as part of an International–style exhibit at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. The installation garnered acclaim for De Pree’s brand all over the world and afforded Rohde the opportunity to execute on his visionary ideas in front of a global audience. Rohde later designed lighting, seating and more for Herman Miller and was extensively involved in the company's marketing strategy and other areas of the business.

In 1942, Herman Miller, anticipating a postwar economic boom, began to produce office furniture for the first time, but its legacy is in the home. Working with legendary designers such as Ray and Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi and Alexander Girard, the manufacturer fostered some of the boldest expressions of what we now call mid-century modern style.

Find vintage Gilbert Rohde coffee tables, lounge chairs, table lamps and other items on 1stDibs.

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Creator: Gilbert Rohde
Dealer: Modest Designs
Gilbert Rohde 'Paldao Group' Modular Bookcase System
By Herman Miller, Gilbert Rohde
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Rare 3-piece storage system, one of the earliest modular furniture designs, veneered in exotic Paldao burl door-fronts and figured Paldao sides. The dark stain finish is original and beautiful, with a rich rosewood color. The drop-down secretary door is set with an elegantly cast brass knob, and opens to a hidden desk...
Category

1940s American Art Deco Vintage Gilbert Rohde Furniture

Materials

Brass

Rare Pair Gilbert Rohde #3770 Six-Drawer Dressers
By Gilbert Rohde, Herman Miller
Located in Brooklyn, NY
This rare design for Herman Miller features a curved case in opulent tropical wood veneer with sold hardwood handles, in a masculine streamlined design, with the surprising addition ...
Category

1930s American Art Deco Vintage Gilbert Rohde Furniture

Materials

Stainless Steel

Gilbert Rohde Paldao Secretary Display Case for Herman Miller
By Gilbert Rohde, Herman Miller
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Bookcase with drop-front secretary desk and storage drawers in paldao wood. Glass dividers separate storage compartments, and cork-lined back. Retains Herman Miller tag. Great origin...
Category

1940s American Art Deco Vintage Gilbert Rohde Furniture

Materials

Paldao

Early Gilbert Rohde Console
By Gilbert Rohde, Herman Miller
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Fantastic example of early American Modern Age design. Chromed steel base, with demilune cork and mahogany top is the epitome of jazz-age experim...
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1930s American Vintage Gilbert Rohde Furniture

Materials

Cork

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Previously Available Items
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Gilbert Rohde Model # 3770 Nightstand
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Gilbert Rohde East Indian Laurel Secretary Cabinet
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Gilbert Rohde East Indian Laurel Secretary Cabinet
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Gilbert Rohde furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Gilbert Rohde furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of wood and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Gilbert Rohde furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. Many of the original furniture by Gilbert Rohde were created in the Art Deco style in north america during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Norman Bel Geddes, Sally Sirkin Lewis, and Leo Jiranek. Prices for Gilbert Rohde furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $10 and can go as high as $55,500, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $5,200.

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