Terrence Harold Robsjohn-Gibbings (1905-76)

British interior and furniture designer, born London, active London and New York.


Robbsjohn-Gibbings studied architecture at London University. He afterwards worked briefly as a naval architect, designing ocean liner interiors, and then as art director for a motion picture studio. In 1926, he became a salesman for an antiques dealer who specialized in Elizabethan and Jacobean furniture; Robsjohn-Gibbings handled prominent accounts such as Elizabeth Arden and Neiman Marcus.

He disliked the prevailing tastes of the day, describing them as "an indigestible mixture of Queen Anne, Georgian and Spanish styles." He likewise considered Bauhaus-style modernism a fraud; he expressed his views in his writings such as Goodbye, Mr. Chippendale (1944), a spoof of modern interior design, Mona Lisa┬┤s Mustache: A dissection of Modern Art (1947), and Homes of the Brave (1953).

He much preferred the visual vocabulary of the classical world, particularly ancient Greek furniture and design; it was there that he turned for inspiration in 1936 when he decided to open a showroom on Madison Avenue in New York.

It featured mosaic floor reproductions, sculptural fragments, and sparse furnishings, all combining to achieve his trademark brand of modern historicism. Robsjohn-Gibbings look was widely emulated, and from 1943-56 he worked as a designer for the Widdicomb furniture company in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In 1960, he met Greek cabinetmakers Susan and Eleftherios Saridis, and together they created the Klismos line of furniture, which drew heavily on classical forms. It is still in production. Robsjohn-Gibbings eventually moved to Athens, where he became designer to Aristotle Onassis.

His honors include the 1950 Waters Award, and the 1962 Elsie de Wolfe Award.

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