Designer Spotlight: Paul McCobb

Designer Spotlight /

The Designer At A Glance

Paul McCobb’s work is characterized by thin lines, simplicity of form and lightness. He is widely considered responsible for introducing mid-century modern design into middle class American households.

The Life Behind The Design

Paul McCobb was born in 1917 in Massachusetts. From a young age he became interested in drawing and painting, and self-taught until eventually enrolling at an art school in Boston. However, his academic career was cut short when he enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II.

After being medically discharged, McCobb found his way to New York to broaden his knowledge of mid-century modern design. His work emphasized thin lines, simpleness of form, and the lightness of the piece. In contrast to the work of many of his contemporaries, McCobb’s pieces lacked flourishes in favor of a simple profile.

When designing pieces, McCobb preferred to keep materials to a minimum. His chairs, desks and tables were made of solid wood like maple or birch. Frames and legs were typically of wrought iron.

While McCobb designed for many companies, he is perhaps best known for his Directional and Planner Group furniture lines. The pieces in those collections were emblematic of the 1950s American lifestyle, and McCobb is widely credited with introducing the mid-century modern style to the middle-class American household.

McCobb’s legacy is firmly rooted in furniture, though he was a skilled and prolific designer in other areas, as well. He also designed radios, televisions, hi-fi consoles and other household items. He was a truly prolific American designer, and one of the reasons the mid-century modern style endures even today.

Notable Works: Today Show Set

On January 14, 1952, NBC’s Today show made its network debut — and history. Not only was Today the first two-hour morning news program of its time; it also introduced millions of Americans to Paul McCobb’s timeless designs.

McCobb was brought on to design Today’s set in the RCA Exhibition Hall on 49th Street in Manhattan. The task was monumental: to set the backdrop for what host Dave Garroway described as “the nerve center of the world.”

Featuring a simple, semi-circular desk for Garroway and sleek, low-profile seating for newsroom technicians, McCobb’s furniture became synonymous with the modern approach to broadcasting. It made his pieces instantly recognizable to — and coveted by — audiences across the Eastern and Central time zones.

It was thanks to the Today show that McCobb’s mid-century sensibilities moved from the television screen and into the average American household.

Liberty & 33rd & Paul McCobb

Paul McCobb pieces are some of the most sought-after at Liberty & 33rd. We’re proud to offer a variety of dining sets, dressers, credenzas and other furniture designed by Paul McCobb and professionally refinished by our team of experts. 

Featured products from Paul McCobb

See all products Paul McCobb pieces here.

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