Paul McCobb studied painting at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston but never completed his course work. With the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted in the Army Corps of Engineers but was honorably discharged shortly thereafter due to health issues. McCobb moved to New York to work as a product development engineer in the new medium of plastics and in 1945, he opened his own design firm, Paul McCobb Associates. In 1950, McCobb launched his first mass produced line of furniture known as the Planner Group in collaboration with B.G. Mesburg; this collection, with its sleek lines and warm finishes, was a hit, and the pieces were showcased in living rooms across America.
McCobb took inspiration from classic American styles like Windsor and Shaker, but transformed them into new and modern forms. As McCobb stated, “we don’t design fads,” and indeed his designs are imbued with a timeless quality. Further, McCobb pioneered the concept of the room divider, to which he attached desk sets, cabinets and shelves, coining the term “living walls.” His work was featured prominently in the Museum of Modern Art’s Good Design exhibitions (1950–1955), and he received MoMA Good Design awards in 1950, 1951, 1953, and 1954. In the 1960s, McCobb worked as an interior design consultant for corporations like Columbia Records, Singer Manufacturing Company, Bell & Howell Company, and Alcoa Aluminum Corporation. McCobb died in 1969 and today his designs are featured in the museum collections of the Copper Hewitt Design Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, among many others.
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