Russel Wright was one of the most important pioneers in American design, especially in his efforts to revolutionize how people live and relate to their domestic environment. As Donald Albrecht wrote in his 2001 exhibition Russel Wright: Creating American Lifestyle, Wright’s “inexpensive, mass produced dinnerware, furniture, appliances, and textiles were not only visually and technically innovative but were also the tools to achieve his concept of ‘easier living’, a unique American lifestyle that was gracious yet contemporary and informal.”
To help complete his idea of an American life-style, Wright also designed textiles. This tablecloth represents one of his patterns, Modern Spice, which was produced by Simtex. It was included in Better Homes and Gardens in May 1951, and the advertisement offers it in two colorways – Paprika and Curry – and in two sizes: 52 x 52 and 52 x 70. The ad also refers to Wright’s and Simtex’s “Good Design” distinction, bestowed upon them by the Museum of Modern Art as part of their Good Design series.
Modern Spice is a fairly intricate pattern where four bands of color intersect to create a total of ten different tones (four main colors plus the six blended combinations). This beautiful overlay of color on top of color recalls Anni Albers’s 1930 tablecloth design and textile (in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art), an even more intricate pattern of line and color. Within the complexity of Wright’s and Albers’s patterns is a simplicity of overall effect that befit the modern interior in 1930s Germany and 1950s America and makes them timeless even today.