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'UMBO' Modular Shelving System by Kay Leroy Ruggles for Directional, 1972

$18,50023% Off


This rare shelving system is the 'UMBO' system designed in the early 1970s by Kay Leroy Ruggles for Directional, and was first published in New York magazine on September 25, 1972. This monumental example in a beautiful brown color with a total of 53 elements, detailed below. Constructed from Uniroyal ABS, a product which is durable, nontoxic, and more heat-resistant than wood which was also used to make telephones at that time. Was offered in white, tangerine and brown - this set is in the brown color option. The color was sprayed on in the factory and should not chip off under normal use. The modular system allows to create different types of furniture such as console or coffee tables, bench, bookcase, room dividers, sofa tables, cocktail tables, side or end tables, nightstands or bedside tables, cafe and breakfast or dining tables and more. Produced only for a short time from 1972 to around 1974, due to the ensuing energy crisis of 1973 which marked the end of the era of cheap gasoline and, therefore, plastics causing UMBO to go out of production in 1974 making these examples extremely rare and sought after by collectors. Finding a set this large is much more rare. This wall system became a huge hit for Directional who produced a wide variety of modules and since UMBO was fully modular, it could be arranged and re-arranged at any time into fun and creative solutions and uses for your home. UMBO was even available with a desk, dining table, bed frame or wall shelves module which made it perfect for small apartments such as those in Los Angeles and New York. The particular configuration seen in our photos was put together by our photographer just as an example of how it can be configured but it can be rearranged, expanded or divided to your liking. Kay Leroy Ruggles was a pioneer of inventions and lifelong entrepreneur with a highly successful career winning many awards and holding numerous patents in which he designed and developed over 100 products in a wide range of industries, including automobile, space, furniture, window coverings, amusement park and musical instruments, for example he created the tubular water slide and when Richard Nixon wanted a new bathroom for Air Force One, that job went to Ruggles. Later, Hugh Hefner had custom-designed rooms by Ruggles and so did Ted Kennedy and Disney World. Consider this original UMBO bookcase system by Kay Leroy Ruggles for Directional for a Space Age Modern, Atomic Modern, Mid-Century Modern, Scandanavian Modern or Danish Modern home or penthouse apartment but could also look fantastic in a Contemporary or Post-Modern room. Also consider mixing it up in a Traditional, Transitional, Classical or Art Deco room with a splash of juxtaposition. The Umbo bookshelf / etagere system can also be an apt choice in a commercial project such as a hotel lobby lounge or members club, creative design studio or high-rise executive office. MEASUREMENTS: As photographed: H 57" x W 193" x D 12" Included in this set are a total of 53 elements which include: 29 - T elements 5 - Cross elements 10 - Corner elements 9 - Flat elements *additional pegs will be supplied as well CONDITION: Very good vintage condition with only minor light wear and surface scratches, excellent collectors example ready for immediate use.


  • Creator
    Directional (Maker),Kay Leroy Ruggles (Designer)
  • Dimensions
    Height: 57 in. (144.78 cm)Width: 193 in. (490.22 cm)Depth: 12 in. (30.48 cm)
  • Style
    Modern (Of the Period)
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
    circa 1970s
  • Condition
    Very good vintage condition with only very light minor wear and light scratches. Ready to be used immediately.
  • Seller Location
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU1330224481672

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    Rates vary by destination and complexity. We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Ships From: Tulsa, OK
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 14 days of delivery.

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About the Seller
5 / 5
Located in Los Angeles, CA

Automaton is the premier source for early-production originals of hard-to-find 20th-century designs and functional art, serving a range of clients, from celebrities and interior designers to aficionados with modest budgets. Its 20,000-square-foot Los Angeles space is packed with rare examples of designs from a large repertoire of such ...

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