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This monograph presents the work of textile and interior designer Ruth Adler Schnee (b. 1923), still in active practice at age 96, affirming her pivotal role in the development of the modern interior. At the core of this volume, published to accompany the first major museum retrospective of Adler Schnee’s work, is the body of textile patterns she has created over the course of her prolific seven-decade career, including the screen-printed fabrics that helped define midcentury American modernism as well as their later iterations as woven textiles. One of the first women to receive an MFA in Design from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, these designs have been the thread that connects Adler Schnee’s diverse production and many professional networks, crossing between her and her husband’s retail entrepreneurship and her interior design commissions and architectural collaborations (Adler Schnee is also famed for her collaborations with Alexander Girard, Minoru Yamasaki and Frank Lloyd Wright).
With more than 80 color plates, an illustrated chronology and three critical essays, Ruth Adler Schnee: Modern Designs for Living presents the definitive narrative of the designer’s oeuvre. Contributors include Susan Brown, who provides a survey of Adler Schnee’s textile designs and production, Deborah Lubera Kawsky, who narrates a biographical sketch of the designer’s life and business, and Ian Gabriel Wilson, who presents a historical analysis of Adler Schnee’s interior design commissions and architectural collaborations. A history of midcentury modern American design through the work of one of its under-recognized protagonists, Ruth Adler Schnee: Modern Designs for Living is an essential, long-overdue volume.