Harvey Probber (1922-2003)

American furniture and interior designer, born Brooklyn, New York; active New York and Fall River, Massachusetts.

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Probber, a design autodidact in a profession largely dominated by formal architectural training, began his creative career at age 16 when he designed a sofa. Eventually, he established a workshop, Harvey Probber Inc., in Brooklyn, later moving his operations to Massachusetts.

An astute observer, Probber realized that the nature of post-WWII American indoor life had fundamentally changed: rooms no longer had strictly assigned functions, and the new open plan interior demanded frurnishings of greater flexibility. Probber, with his finger on the pulse of the times, responded in 1944 with the invention of modular seating; no mean accomplishment for one not given to academic posturing.

Despite his lack of formal training, Probber lead an active and original creative life, as displayed through his renderings of interiors, and the witty caricatures he drew throughout his life of "chairs as people," which served to keep his creative mind in shape.

His pieces themselves displayed the same combination of high style and popular appeal: his were no sterile creations in tubular steel; Probber´s work shares more in common with art deco than with the machine aesthetic of the bauhaus. It often combined rare woods, sumptuous fabrics and sinuous lines with just the right amount of avant-garde sensibility to make them widely practical and appealing and as a result his furniture set the tone for American indoor life starting in the 1950´s.

Probber´s work has enjoyed a serge in poplarity in recent years, and has become particularly collectible. He was not a household name in his lifetime as were some of his contemporaries Charles and Ray Eames, His "sling chair" was included in the famed MoMA 1951 Good Design exhibition.

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