Gilbert Rohde Chair c. 1938

  • Not on view

Plexiglas was introduced by the Philadelphia chemical company Rohm & Haas in 1936, the same year DuPont began commercial production of Lucite. Both products—the same synthetic polymer under different trade names—caused a sensation at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, but the revolutionary transparent structural material was soon pulled from the commercial market for military application. This early example of a fully integrated plastic chair, one of two known prototypes, presaged wartime developments in ergonomic design, like the Ironrite Health Chair. Rohde, a leader of innovative American design in the 1930s, experimented with materials, production techniques, and multifunctional units for major furniture manufacturers, including Herman Miller. He condemned historical reproduction and valued mass production and availability.

Gallery label from Shaping Modernity: Design 1880-1980, December 23, 2009–July 25, 2010 .
Stainless steel and Plexiglas
31 1/2 x 17 1/2 x 21" (80 x 44.4 x 53.3 cm)
Gift of Mark McDonald, Jeffrey P. Klein Purchase Fund and John C. Waddell Purchase Fund
Object number
Architecture and Design

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