Between 1939 and 1959, 250 million pieces of Russel Wright’s American Modern dinnerware collection were sold, making it the best-selling service set of all time. And yet, there’s a good chance most people haven’t heard of it; Wright’s muted glazes and Quaker simplicity have been overpowered by brighter, bolder Fiestaware. A precursor to mid-century Modernism, Wright’s American Modern collection heralded in a new era of industrial design, relying on mass production to create affordable housewares for America’s growing middle class.
As a designer, Wright considered the table to be the center of the home, and designed housewares accordingly, all with the goal of facilitating easy, carefree living. Marked by curving silhouettes and earthy colors, his designs are sophisticated but not stodgy, lacking in ornamental details and made to be mixed and matched among other colors. Today, the collection is produced by Bauer Pottery (the company for which Wright designed after World War II), and maintains the muted, versatile hues that have become emblematic of modernist aesthetics: seafoam, coral, chartreuse and granite gray.
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