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See more objects with the tag dining, affordable, plaid, picnics, casual.

Object Timeline

  • We acquired this object.

1949

  • Work on this object began.

1955

  • Work on this object ended.

2021

  • You found it!

Tablecloth, Modern Spice, 1949–1955

This is a Tablecloth. It was designed by Russel Wright and manufactured by Simtex Mills. It is dated 1949–1955. Its medium is rayon, cotton and its technique is twill weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Pioneering American designer Russel Wright, along with his wife Mary, championed a philosophy of ‘easier living,’ a uniquely American lifestyle that was comfortable and informal, yet gracious and beautiful. In his design work, he often focused on the table as the very heart of domestic life, and the area most in need of reform from outdated rules of etiquette. Wright’s inexpensive, mass-produced American Modern dinnerware was one of the best-selling tableware lines ever produced.
Although he championed an efficient, casual approach to dining, he was far from a simple pragmatist. A former set and lighting designer for theater, Wright created themes or moods for the dining experience. With the 1930 aluminum Informal Serving Accessories, Mary introduced the idea of marketing the line with informal themed events, like After Bridge, Porch Picnic, and Tennis Refreshments. They continued the concept throughout Wright’s design career, as well as in their book, A Guide to Easier Living, which presented scenes from an idealized domestic life.
Wright created his own tablecloths to serve as a backdrop to his dinnerware sets. American Modern and Iroquois Casual were un-patterned, solid-colored earthenware. This lack of ornamentation left room for a greater play of color and pattern in the textiles. He created a set of bold, graphic printed textures and geometric patterns for Leacock, and an assortment of plaids and checks for Simtex. The plaids have a simple, homey effect, but are fairly complex exercises in color, some designs with as many as ten solid and blended colors creating a subtle tonal range. The colors were keyed to the nature-inspired palettes of the American Modern and Iroquois Casual earthenware lines: brown, gray, seafoam, chartreuse, and coral.
Wright and Simtex were awarded The Museum of Modern Art’s “Good Design” distinction for the collection.

This object was donated by George R. Kravis II. It is credited Gift of George R. Kravis II.

Our curators have highlighted 2 objects that are related to this one.

  • Sidewall, Plaid
  • hand-dyed japanese paper.
  • Gift of Barbara White.
  • 2000-64-6

Its dimensions are

H x W: 129.5 × 132.1 cm (51 × 52 in.)

Cite this object as

Tablecloth, Modern Spice, 1949–1955; Designed by Russel Wright (American, 1904–1976); rayon, cotton; H x W: 129.5 × 132.1 cm (51 × 52 in.); Gift of George R. Kravis II; 2018-22-123

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/420557235/ |title=Tablecloth, Modern Spice, 1949–1955 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=25 October 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>