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- Kay Leroy Ruggles for Directional 1970 UMBO Mod...
Kay Leroy Ruggles for Directional 1970 UMBO Modular Shelving
The ‘Umbo’ shelving system, a bit of space age plastic fantastic first produced by Directional Furniture of New York in ...
more The ‘Umbo’ shelving system, a bit of space age plastic fantastic first produced by Directional Furniture of New York in 1970. For many years the Umbo shelves were misattributed to Italian designer Joe Colombo and understandably so. In fact the modular and customizable shelving system was designed by American Kay Leroy Ruggles.
By the 1960’s many European designers and manufacturers began experimenting with plastics as a reliable material in furniture manufacturing. Plastics like acrylics and ABS could be molded and cast into almost any shape and in bold, daring colors. It was a period of tremendous change not only in design but socially and the buying public was eager for something new. Directional sensed this and starting producing a limited run of plastic furniture including the Umbo shelving system.
Made from ABS plastic and available in four colors (white, orange, yellow, and brown) the inventive Umbo system came with interlocking forms which, via a pin and hole set up, could be snapped together in any configuration the customer needed. What’s most remarkable about the shelving is that – without any fasteners at all – its astonishingly study and stable.
Because of its strength and versatility the Umbo system was met with success however it was only on the market for a few years. The Oil Crisis that began in 1973 drove the price of petroleum products – necessary in the production of ABS plastics – up considerably making the shelving too expensive to continue production. Today they are extremely collectible.
plastic modules can be re-assembled in different configurations. therefore dimensions below might not be accurate for the forms in which you choose to assemble these UMBO pieces.
Condition: Good to fair vintage condition. Some effects of time such as yellowing visible. Some evidence of use. Don't miss this versatile piece of design history.
All best, Otto less
- 66.0ʺW × 12.0ʺD × 73.0ʺH
- Mid-Century Modern
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Otto Binx in Brooklyn, NY
After more than a decade in academia, both as doctoral candidate at NYU’s Institute ...
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