Henry Dreyfuss, Eliot Noyes and Raymond Loewy are names of design virtuosos who justly find themselves on center stage and even on U.S. postage stamps! Another American designer whose name has recently come into the spotlight is Paul McCobb, who at last gets his due in a special exhibition, showcasing his seminal and highly influential designs, at the NYC 20 Art and Design Fair, April 13-15 at the Tent in Lincoln Center.
High back swivel chair, 1955
Curated by Gerard O'Brien, of the Los Angeles-based Reform Gallery in association with Jonathan Goldstein, this museum-caliber exhibition, which occupies an entire booth, is the first of its kind in New York dedicated to McCobb. Born in 1917, the designer rose to prominence while still in his early 30s through association with New York City's Modernage Furniture, and in the 1960s launched his own hugely popular furniture line. A believer in creating affordable design, McCobb deployed his talents to re-think design for wallpapers, fabrics, lighting, glassware, ceramics, and even typewriters. He also designed hi-fi consoles and television sets that became fixtures in Leave It to Beaver-like households during the Baby Boomer years.
McCobb's association with television and furniture is manifested in a uniquely historical way. For the nation's first network morning news program-The Today Show-McCobb designed a set that was unveiled in 1952 and got continuous coast-to-coast exposure into the 1960s. With its floor-to-ceiling wire-glass-and-steel newspaper rack and furniture from Knoll and Herman Miller, the set clearly communicated McCobb's fluency in up-to-the-minute mid-century design-while also whetting a telegenic appetite for mid-century design in millions of aspirational Americans. The importance that McCobb's Today set had in parking a fever for mid-century design cannot really be overstated.
Gerard O'Brien's exhibition booth (where all the McCobb items are available for purchase) joins 36 others top-tier 1stdibs dealers at NYC20, all displaying the very best in 20th-century art and design. The fair kicks off with an early-buying preview party on Thursday, April 12 from 6 to 9 PM, in the Tent at Lincoln Center in Damrosch Park. Co-chaired by Michael Bruno, Brad Ford, Julie Hillman and David Mann, the preview will benefit the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture. Ticket prices are $500 for entry at 6 p.m.; $250 for entry at 6:30 p.m.; and $150 for entry at 7 p.m.
The New York 20th Century Art and Design Fair opens to the public on Friday, April 13, and runs through Sunday, April 15. NYC20 takes place in the Tent at Lincoln Center in Damrosch Park, West 62nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. Hours are Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $20, includes a show catalog, and is good for return entry.