The Factory and the Studio
Mid-Century Modern, 1920-1960
Much furniture made in Massachusetts in the twentieth century was traditional in nature, reflecting the area’s longstanding and widespread enthusiasm for historicism. However, a few designers and manufacturers in the state explored various forms of international modernism that were stylish beginning in the 1920s and 1930s.
For example, Paul R. Goldman designed innovative plywood furniture for the Plymold Corporation of Lawrence, Massachusetts, in the 1940s that embraced the sleek lines and modernist aesthetic of well-known designers such as Charles and Ray Eames of California. The Heywood-Wakefield Co. created its own interpretations of the French art deco style starting in the 1930s.
Design Research, a retail store founded in 1953 by Ben Thompson, played a significant role in introducing modern Scandinavian furniture design to the public. Originally located on Brattle Street in Cambridge, Design Research expanded to several locations in the state and elsewhere, but eventually closed in 1969.
- Baker, Donna S., ed. Heywood-Wakefield Blond Furniture: Depression to ‘50s. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2005.
- Ostergard, Derek E. Bent Wood and Metal Furniture, 1850-1946. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1986,
- Swedberg, Robert W., and Harriett Swedberg. Furniture of the Depression Era: Furniture and Accessories of the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s. Paducah, KY: Collector Books, 1987.
- Thompson, Jane, and Alexandra Lange. Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2010.