T. H. (Terence Harold) Robsjohn-Gibbings’ work spanned the roles of furniture designer, interior decorator, and writer. With his lifetime partner interior designer Carlton W. Pullin, Gibbings advocated a new distinctly American form of contemporary furniture, publishing several design discourses to that end. He was interested in the idea of functional design although he rebelled against early Modernism, describing it as cold and all the same. In his writing for publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, House Beautiful, Gibbings promoted independent thinking and personal taste in design. While in high school, the England-born Gibbings worked as a draftsman for the London-based firm Heaton, Tabb and Co. who designed interiors for passenger ships. He went on to study architecture at the University of Liverpool and London University and undertook additional training in applied arts at the Slade School of Fine Art (London) and in Paris. Six years after emigrating to the United States in 1930, Gibbings opened a design studio on Madison Avenue creating pieces for his first furniture line called Sans Epoque. Mirroring its name, he aimed to create furniture in a timeless style. This design philosophy is evident in his interiors and furnishings for the Casa Encantada (House of Enchantment) completed in 1938 in Bel Air, resulting in Gibbings’ interpretation of Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Asian styles—neither modern nor antique. However, Ancient Greek styles did exert a sizeable influence throughout his career, and he notably held a longtime collaboration with Saridis, an Athens furniture company. Gibbings’ significant contribution to the field stems from his ideas on functional and individual design. He notably designed a line for the Widdicomb Furniture Co. from 1947 to 1957, illustrating how he applied “good” original design to large-scale production. One example for this line is Gibbings’ famous louvered front drawer (with a slightly staggered or angled space between drawers) in this way eliminated the need for handles and made for easier production.
Jeffrey Head, “T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings,” in Todd Merrill and Julie Iovine, eds., Modern Americana: Studio Furniture from High Craft to High Glam (New York: Rizzoli, 2008), 194-205.
Catherine L. Futter, “Timeless Design: the Furnishings and Interiors of T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings,” Echos (Summer 1996), 38-40, 58.