McCobb & Modularity

 Irwin Collection cabinet, model c8506, made in 1952

Irwin Collection cabinet, model c8506, made in 1952

 Magazine rack, model 6521, made in 1951

Magazine rack, model 6521, made in 1951

 Faceted Form lounge chair from 1959.

Faceted Form lounge chair from 1959.

Coming from humble beginnings with minimal education and no training in design, Paul McCobb became one of the most recognised and influential designers on the American design scene of the 1950s and 60s.

Born in 1917 in Somerville, Massachusetts, and the eldest of four children, McCobb was of mixed Scottish and Irish descent. His background strictly working class, his father, a long-term employee of the Jordan Marsh Department Store in Boston, his mother, a stay-at-home housewife. From an early age McCobb dreamt of becoming an artist, he learnt to sketch and paint from private tutors and took some instruction at Boston’s Vesper George School of Art. In a 1958 Esquire article McCobb tells the story of his very first artistic commission at the age of 16, painting five 20 x l00-foot bare walls at Paragon Park near Boston.

McCobb’s career in design began at the tender age of 20 when, helped by his father, he started at Jordan Marsh where he was employed in their art department, then later as an interior decorator and window dresser. He was there from 1936 until 1942.

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