After helping design the Museum of Modern Art and Radio City Music Hall in New York City, architect Edward Durell Stone came home to Arkansas to design furniture for his friend J. William Fulbright, and the ‘Ozark Modern’ exhibit showcased that work.
The mid-century modern furniture designed by internationally renowned architect Edward Durell Stone was exhibited at the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery.
Stone, who also designed the UA Fine Arts Center, was born in Fayetteville and became acquainted with fellow Fayetteville native J. William Fulbright. As the two grew up, they took different career paths. Stone (1902 - 1978) became an acclaimed architect and Fulbright (1905 - 1995) became a distinguished United States senator.
Yet, their paths converged again in the 1950s. Two of the Fulbright family businesses, the Springfield Wagon Co. and Phipps Lumber Co., built wagons. But, as demand for wagons decreased, Fulbright decided to diversify the companies and expand into the furniture business.
Fulbright called upon his friend Stone to design the furniture and Fulbright Industries was born. As noted in a UA press release, "Stone’s designs capitalized on the company’s existing machinery and skills to create this exceptional furniture line. This tactic led to furniture that was distinctly modern in appearance yet utilized regional materials and techniques in its manufacture."
Catherine Wallack, assistant professor of interior design at the UA's Fay Jones School of Architecture, is the curator of the "Ozark Modern" exhibition, which showcased the furniture designed by Edward Durell Stone for Fulbright Industries.
Wallack obtained permission to reproduce some Time Life photographs taken in March 1951 by photographers George Silk and Peter Stackpole. Those reproductions, some showing craftspeople building the furniture and the furniture's comparison to farm implements, along with the finished products designed by Stone, were part of the exhibit.
Below are photographs taken at the exhibit which closed Feb. 16. However, the exhibit was in conjunction with the 60th anniversary celebration of the Fine Arts Center, which continues through 2011.