Often when we are antiquing in Stamford, we are on the look out for the perfect occasional chair, bespoke wicker pieces, maybe a great antique mirror or perhaps a Turkish rug from the ‘2os. However, on our last trip, we came across a card table that stopped us dead in our tracks. It had rosewood inlay and brass framing; it was simplistic in design but rich in character. It was without a doubt a Paul McCobb.
Detail shot of Wooden Inlay
Perhaps never at the forefront of Mid-Century Modern design, Paul McCobb’s designs have over time become coveted classics and have often served as inpsiration for many of the furniture design greats to follow.
Brass and Bleached Mahogany Shelving System
Unlike the majority of his peers, McCobb’s design background is a humble one – with no real formal training (with the exception of his brief stint at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston), McCobb served in the military before becoming a design and decorating consultant for Martin Feinman’s Modernage Furniture in New York City.
Dining Chairs, Delineator Series
It was at Martin Feinman’s were Paul’s design skills were gaining prominence catching the attention of B.G. Mesberg who became his life long business partner. McCobb partnered with the likes of Calvin and Winchendon Furniture Company creating designs for, but not limited to: furniture, textiles, lighting, dinnerware, and even electronics.
His designs were affordable and attainable. They were definitely not “precious” pieces nor would he have wanted them to be. McCobb’s ethos is best captured by the following quote “Design appeal is based on integrity of form, simplicity of line, and true organic function.”
Mahogany, Leather, and Brass Credenza
Because his pieces were so available to the masses, his Planner Group furniture line for Winchendon was, during that era, the best selling furniture line in history. Funny to think that a furniture line that was once seen as economical in the ’50s is going for thousands of dollars on sites like 1st Dibs!
Slipper Chairs with Slightly Winged Back
His designs, while authentically Mid-Century Modern, have the ability to meld with a variety of design aesthetics. His use of warm toned woods, brass details, and touches of velvet and leather also give his pieces a slightly glamorous edge unlike other designs of his era, particularly Scandanavian modern, which had the tendancy to appear cold and sterile.
McCobb’s designs have become the model for Mid-Century furniture reproduction lines everywhere. While I’m sure McCobb would hope that the quality of his pieces and materials remained true, I don’t think he would actually be too upset to see his work inspiring a side table at Target or a credenza at Mitchell Gold Bob Williams. After all, his main purpose was to design pieces that real every day people could use – and that, Paul, is just what we will keep on doing.