Paul McCobb

The Boston-born creative, Paul McCobb (1917 – 1969) is known a designer who strove to create his own style that was identifiable and locatable as American through reinterpreting classic forms. McCobb began a degree in Fine Art but then served in the army between 1942 and 1943, before returning to work in interior design and the furniture industry. His work aimed to reduce needless excess and create clean spaces that were stylish and functional. McCobb worked with various furniture companies across North America, created sustainable and affordable products that were very popular. The works of Paul McCobb thus remain iconic through the influence and value they had in households across the USA. 

Paul McCobb studied at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston but was unable to complete his studies after enlisting to serve in the Army. After returning, McCobb worked and learned with a practical approach, through internships and collaborations with furniture and design companies in New York. He worked as an interior designer before opening his own company Paul McCobb Design Associates. He and a friend then went on to establish the Planner Group in 1950, which became known for its affordable designs that could furnish a room completely, with a signature look. Their target group was the post-war middle class family, with clever designs to make small rooms appear larger. McCobb continued to design furniture for various companies and collaborations and was awarded the Good Design Award by the MoMA five times in five years, between 1950 and 1955. In 1959, the Philadelphia Museum of Arts also honored him with the Contribution to Better Design Award. His designs have been exhibited at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, and at the MoMA in New York. 

Paul McCobb, Shovel Chair (first designed in 1950) H:86cm W:46cm D:52cm, maple wood and metal, Planner Group USA

The Shovel Chair by Paul McCobb is testament to his intelligent and practical approach to furniture design. The chairs are shaped for comfort and support and yet show a consciousness of space and mass in their size, characteristic of McCobb’s approach. The chairs were designed circa 1950 and initially produced by the Planner Group before Winchendon was also given production rights. The sleek design of sandblasted and polished wood compliments the stark black metal legs, coming together to create a warm, yet practical, looking item that would be suitable in any room of the house.