MCM Master: Harvey Probber (1922-2003)

26Apr12

13′ Eldorado Sofa

I will admit that I was not very familiar with Harvey Probber but kept seeing his name and designs while researching other MCM Masters. I finally got a clue and did some research. As you will see, there are a lot of images because I honestly did not see one piece of his that I disliked. The designs are so graceful and clean that I had trouble restraining myself and most of the pieces look as if they were recently designed. Here’s what I found about the man and his life.  pb

Brooklyn, NY native Harvey Probber designed some of the most elegant and innovative furniture of the mid-century and introduced the sectional sofa to America in the 1940’s. He reportedly sold his first design for a sofa when he was 16, for $10. After graduating high school he was selling his designs in Manhattan and he sought little formal training afterwards, but did take evening classes at the Pratt Institute. He learned about furniture production on the job with Trade Upholstery in New York.

After serving in the Coast Guard during the 1940’s, Probber had a short secondary career as a cabaret singer. He opened Harvey Probber Inc. in 1945 and it remained open until 1986.  His wife, Joan Dworkin Probber, was quoted “He did have a beautiful voice, but when push came to shove, he followed design.”

The beauty of his designs are reflected in the understated lines with details that include elegant hardware, rich finishes, and sometimes unexpected colors, he explained in the 1950’s that he did so to keep customer interest up. He also described “the quality of aging gracefully” as “design’s fourth dimension.

‘He was shy; it’s why he wasn’t better known,” Mrs. Probber said.

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2 Responses to “MCM Master: Harvey Probber (1922-2003)”

  1. Hey There. I discovered your blog the usage of msn. This is a really well written article.

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