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Jewish Designers' Influence on Midcentury Modernism

By Dwell @dwell
From furniture to interiors, Jewish designers made their mark on modernist American design in the postwar years. Slideshow Photo

Vienna-born architect Richard Neutra designed the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs in 1947 for Edgar Kaufmann, Sr., the Jewish owner of a trendsetting Pittsburgh department store. Jewish architectural photographer Julius Schulman captured the striking home in this image. Courtesy J. Paul Getty Trust.

An exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum explores the influential role that Jewish architects and designers played in the formation of the midcentury modernist aesthetic in the U.S. "The arena of modern design in particular offered an unprecedented flourishing of opportunities for and acceptance of Jews," writes guest curator Donald Albrecht. "For most postwar modern designers and their patrons, religion was a nonissue." 

FoIlowing the fall of the Nazi rule, Jewish designers had a chance to enter the mainstream of American design—and they did so in a flourish, influencing the worlds of furniture, architecture, interiors, graphics, and textiles. Here, Dwell takes a peak at some of the notable works by Jewish makers on view in the exhibition, from George Nelson's Marhmallow sofa for Herman Miller to architect Richard Neutra's Schiff House in San Francisco.

Dwell is the proud media sponsor of "Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism," on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum through Oct. 6, 2014. Find out more about the exhibition here.


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