Bauer and Dean logo




Making America Modern: Interior Design in the 1930s

Marilyn F. Friedman

Hardcover, approximately 240 pages, 202 photos, including 25 in color, 8.25 x 10.25 inches

Retail price $50.00

Available April 2018






Making America Modern: Interior Design in the 1930s

A valuable resource for design professionals, historians, and enthusiasts, Making America Modern chronicles the evolution of modern interior design in the United States throughout the 1930s. With 200 images and detailed descriptions, design historian Marilyn F. Friedman presents more than one hundred interiors by fifty designers, including Donald Deskey, Paul T. Frankl, Percival Goodman, Frederick Kiesler, William Lescaze, William Muschenheim, Tommi Parzinger, Gilbert Rohde, Eugene Schoen, and Kem Weber; set designers Cedric Gibbons and Joseph Urban; and industrial designers Raymond Loewy, Walter Dorwin Teague, and Russel Wright. The book also highlights the work of women modernists who are practically unknown today, including Virginia Conner, Freda Diamond, Eleanor Le Maire, and Madame Majeska.

Interiors cover the economic spectrum, from those created for wealthy patrons who embraced the modernist aesthetic, including Walter Annenberg, William Paley, and Abby Rockefeller Milton, to those designed with affordability in mind, including private commissions, as well as furniture and model rooms for manufacturers, design associations, and museum exhibitions. The book also profiles in detail entire model homes that highlighted new concepts in design and construction, such as Norman Bel Geddes' House of Tomorrow for Ladies' Home Journal; Macy's Forward House; Frederick Kiesler's Space House for the Modernage showroom; Eleanor Le Maire's House of Planes for Abraham & Straus; and the model houses at the 1933 Chicago and 1939 New York World's Fairs.

The trajectory of American modern design during the 1930s was not linear. In rejecting the revivalism that had defined American design during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, these designers forged something new-an American movement defined by simplicity, practicality, and comfort that embraced experimentation and variation in materials and style. This lively and important examination of the development of modernism comprehensively details, year by year, individual projects and their impact on modern interior design in America today.


Marilyn F. Friedman is a design historian whose work focuses on the development and popularization of modern design across America during the 1920s and 30s. Born and educated in New York, Friedman studied design history at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, earning a Master of Arts degree, which led to her first publication, Selling Good Design: Promoting the Early Modern Interior (Rizzoli, 2003). She regularly contributes articles to design journals and museum publications and has lectured throughout the United States, and in England and Canada.