From the Collection of 
Susan Jackson Keig

Susan Jackson Keig was one of the most celebrated graphic designers in Chicago, but a career in art was not always her first choice. Kicked out of an all-male engineering class at the University of Kentucky when her professor declared “this is no place for a woman,” Keig pursued a degree in art and design, tapping into a passion that she held since a young age. Raised on her family farm in Kentucky, Keig began keeping a scrapbook about architecture at the age of twelve. She excelled in school and enrolled in post-graduate studies at the Corcoran Art Gallery School until 1940, when she was recruited to join the cryptanalyst division of the US Army Signal Corps in Washington, D.C. During the war, she and fellow code-breakers successfully cracked the Japanese code—a major contribution to securing victory. 

I feel that as designer, we are a rather privileged group. The world is our office—literally no confines to what we might do.

Susan Jackson Keig

Notable Designs by Susan Jackson Keig

Paul McCobb 1917–1969

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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