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June 9, 2014 1:18 pm

Mid-Century Jewish Modern Designers Explored in Exhibit

avatar by Alina Dain Sharon /

Immigrant and second-generation Jews like George Nelson, who designed this Marshmallow Sofa, had great influence on American mid-century modern design. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.orgAn interesting article in The Atlantic explores the influence that Jews have had on American mid-century modern design. An exhibition on the subject titled “Designing Home: Jews and Mid-century Modernism” is on display at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco until October 2014.

According to the article, “It was Hitler’s war on ‘degenerate’ modernism that triggered Jewish architects and designers to take refuge in the U.S.”

Although Jews had been excluded from the architecture and design fields, this period became a turning point.

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“I don’t know if modernism triggered the change, [but it caused] a lessening anti-Semitism after WWII,” said the exhibit’s guest curator, Donald Albrecht, who added that for Jews, the avant-garde design genre was “a way to be free of a sometimes painful past.”

“Many Jews were here to stay… so they worked to make a good home in the U.S. and, for some, that good home meant good modern design, especially in new suburbs,” he said.

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