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Russel Wright Furniture

American, 1904-1976

While industrial designer Russell Wright may be known to modern furniture enthusiasts for his streamlined end tables, dining chairs and other pieces, he is universally revered for a line of tableware he created called American Modern. Efficient, practical, and striking in their elegant forms and warm colors, the American Modern ceramic pieces, which included bowls, pitchers, dishes, and other items, became the best-selling dinnerware of all time. Today, vintage Russell Wright American Modern tableware is an evergreen favorite of art collectors and interior designers alike.

Born in 1904 in Ohio, Wright was surrounded by inspiration for the furniture he would one day design. He was raised in a Quaker household and grew up with the spare, meticulously handcrafted furniture for which the Quakers are known. As a young man, he studied art and sculpture at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and the Art Students League of New York, going on to study law at Princeton University in New Jersey. But Wright loved the arts and abandoned his pursuit of a law degree to create stage sets in Princeton and Paris alongside fellow noted designer Norman Bel Geddes.

In 1927, Wright married artist and sculptor Mary Einstein. Together, they moved to New York City, where Wright began to create sculptures. Mary convinced him to create metal bookends from his sculptures, and later, when he began to craft bar accessories from chrome, he turned to aluminum, a much cheaper material for the purposes of mass production (his barware was eventually included in the "Machine Art" show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1934, which was curated by Philip Johnson).

Mary worked on marketing Russell's products, successfully proposing everyday uses for Wright's beautifully designed housewares. She is said to have been a pioneer in the world of lifestyle marketing, coining the terms "American Modern" and "blonde" to describe the charming, light-colored maple furniture he created for Conant Ball, which was known at the time for its reproductions of American Colonial furniture.

While Wright had created some Art Deco furnishings for Heywood-Wakefield, it was this group of bedroom furniture for Conant Ball that got its name, American Modern, from Mary. Under her guidance, Wright's attractive, functional designs for the home gained renown, leading to commissions by prestigious companies like the Steubenville Pottery Company.

In 1935, Wright formed Russell Wright Associates with Irving Richards, an entrepreneur who had worked with Lightolier and would later establish Raymor. In collaboration with Richards, Wright debuted the first line of American Modern dinnerware in 1939, which was initially produced by Russell Wright Associates and then manufactured by Steubenville for two decades. The line sold over 200 million pieces during its 20 years of production. In 1955, Wright was selected by the U.S. State Department to research handicraft industries in Southeast Asia, a trip that influenced his later designs.

Throughout his life, Wright continued to design furniture and housewares, with the works' signature earth tones, curved forms, and clean silhouettes of his floor lamps, lounge chairs, and serveware remaining popular staples in American households. In his later years, he focused on designing and building his home, Manitoga, and working with the National Parks Service to develop the "Summer in the Parks" program.

Upon Wright's death in 1974, Manitoga was given to the Nature Conservancy. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2006 and today houses the Russell & Mary Wright Design Gallery, where many of Wright's works stand on permanent display. In 2011, stamps from the U.S. Postal Service featured Wright's image as one of the United States' twelve most influential industrial designers.

Find vintage Russel Wright lighting, seating, tables, serveware, ceramics and glass on 1stDibs. 

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Creator: Russel Wright
Dealer: Again & Again
Pair of Nightstands by Russel Wright for Conant Ball
By Russel Wright, Conant Ball
Located in Dallas, TX
Iconic pair of early 20th century American modernist nightstands featuring drawers with wooden pulls and dovetail joints, designed by Russel Wright for Conant Ball, circa 1940. Beginning in the late 1920s through the 1960s, Russel Wright created a succession of artistically distinctive and commercially successful items that helped bring modern design to the general public. Good vintage condition with some cosmetic imperfections due to age and use. Labeled with the branded mark "American Modern Built by Conant-Ball Co.". Matching dresser and chest of drawers...
Category

Mid-20th Century North American Mid-Century Modern Russel Wright Furniture

Materials

Wood

3 Drawer Dresser by Russel Wright for Conant Ball
By Conant Ball, Russel Wright
Located in Dallas, TX
Iconic early 20th century American modernist blonde maple dresser featuring drawers with wooden pulls and dovetail joints, designed by Russel Wright for Conant Ball, circa 1940. Begi...
Category

Mid-20th Century North American Mid-Century Modern Russel Wright Furniture

Materials

Maple, Wood

Tall Chest of Drawers/Dresser by Russel Wright for Conant Ball
By Russel Wright, Conant Ball
Located in Dallas, TX
Iconic early 20th century American modernist chest of drawers/dresser featuring drawers with wooden pulls and dovetail joints, designed by Russel Wright for Conant Ball, circa 1940. ...
Category

Mid-20th Century Mid-Century Modern Russel Wright Furniture

Materials

Wood

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Russel Wright furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Russel Wright 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 Russel Wright furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. Many of the original furniture by Russel Wright were created in the mid-century modern style in north america during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Conant Ball, Charles Pollock, and Salterini. Prices for Russel Wright furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $195 and can go as high as $17,500, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $2,375.
Questions About Russel Wright Furniture
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Russel Wright designed many things over the course of his life. He is well known for his vibrantly colored American Modern dinnerware produced from 1939 to 1959. Wright also created furniture, lighting and other home accents. Find a range of Russel Wright furniture and decorative accents on 1stDibs.

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