Planner Group

Designs by Paul McCobb

Planner Group manufacturer's catalog from 1957.

Planner—America's foremost coordinated group of contemporary furniture was designed to satisfy the needs of those who seek superior design in their homes. Planner is accepted as the perfect answer for today's interior, as shown by the widespread acclaim and honors given to Planner and its designer, Paul McCobb.

Planner Group Designs manufacturer's catalog, 1957

Curatorial Alchemy

Our paths first crossed, unknown until many years later, at an intimate yet bustling wedding reception in a south Chicago apartment. This was probably 30 years ago, perhaps even the same year a new gallery, Torno Wright, opened at the end of my street to a fanfare of Eames, heralding new changes to come. Criss-crossing breezes of chance encounters, meandering spirits, hazy focus of time and space, of enthusiasm and knowledge sought, now united again in the same city.

That same serendipity, prompting impulse and discovery, guided welcome reward in the crucible of that great industrial city, still littered with the artefacts of the American mid-century. It was within this uneven yet fertile terrain, hidden slightly below surface, that Patrick’s intuitive talent—honed first as photographer then embellished as artist—would treasure the valuable neglected as passionate collector, and then as the inspirational dealer that I was to meet again, years later in New York City.

If asked to select one word to describe Patrick, I would resist and pick two. The first would be curiosity—a fundamental essential, to stimulate inquiry and rigour in all things, both great and small, of any era or region, type or surface. Even the most fleeting survey of this selection for sale is a celebration of innovation and of inspiration—an unerring eye for the unusually exceptional, or perhaps the exceptionally unusual. The chances are, that these are indeed discoveries that you have not yet realized that you needed to make.

Mentor, would be my second word. If artefacts and objects articulate visual, cultural and historic language, then the fluency of skillful mentorship—to guide, nurture, describe and explain—releases the eloquence of murmuring histories. In this capacity Patrick is that most earnest and sincere of excellent narrators. If ever I had friends, clients or colleagues visiting New York looking for unusual inspiration, there was always the certainty that Patrick’s gallery would offer them a glimpse of the hitherto unseen or the unusually seductive, always with the reassurance of the most fascinating story waiting to be told.

Mentorship and curiosity, when balanced in equal measure, reveal the precious alchemy of a curator. And it is the duty of the mature curator to discern and detect, to cultivate change, and from there to pioneer, and to share. Innovation is never static, and the Present is already the Future. Fresh dialogs evolve, energies to be nurtured, opportunities to be guided. Renewed and re-orientated, Patrick now faces fully forward—as benefactor, interlocutor and mentor to a new, inquisitive generation of talented creators, and the quest for discovery rejuvenates.

— Simon Andrews
andrewsartadvisory.com

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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Auction Results Paul McCobb

PAUL MCCOBB, Nightstands model 8714, pair | wright20.com

Paul McCobb

Nightstands model 8714, pair

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $13,750
PAUL MCCOBB, chaise | wright20.com

Paul McCobb

chaise

estimate: $4,000–6,000
result: $8,125
PAUL MCCOBB, Irwin Collection console, model C9315 | wright20.com

Paul McCobb

Irwin Collection console, model C9315

estimate: $1,500–2,000
result: $7,500
PAUL MCCOBB, mirror | wright20.com

Paul McCobb

mirror

estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $6,875
PAUL MCCOBB, vanity and chair | wright20.com

Paul McCobb

vanity and chair

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $6,875
PAUL MCCOBB, Rare Directional Modern lounge chairs, pair | wright20.com

Paul McCobb

Rare Directional Modern lounge chairs, pair

estimate: $2,500–3,500
result: $6,875
PAUL MCCOBB, Floor lamp | wright20.com

Paul McCobb

Floor lamp

estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $6,875
PAUL MCCOBB, floor lamp | wright20.com

Paul McCobb

floor lamp

estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $6,875
PAUL MCCOBB, wall-mounted vanity | wright20.com

Paul McCobb

wall-mounted vanity

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $6,250
PAUL MCCOBB, coffee table from the Irwin Collection | wright20.com

Paul McCobb

coffee table from the Irwin Collection

estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $6,250
PAUL MCCOBB, Connoisseur Collection desk, model 7021 and armchair, model 9102 | wright20.com

Paul McCobb

Connoisseur Collection desk, model 7021 and armchair, model 9102

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $6,250
PAUL MCCOBB, Planner Group cabinet, model 1510-L | wright20.com

Paul McCobb

Planner Group cabinet, model 1510-L

estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $5,938