United Kingdom / USA, c. 1955
30 × 18 × 19¾”
Terence Harold Robsjohn-Gibbings was born in England in 1905. While studying architecture at the University of London, Robsjohn-Gibbings was fascinated by the restrained elegance of Greek and Roman art, so he often spent his spare time wandering the galleries of the British Museum. In 1929, he moved to New York where he worked for famed tastemaker Charles Duveen before establishing a career as an independent interior designer in 1936. In 1938, Harper’s Bazaar stated that Robsjohn-Gibbings felt that “the modern should stem from the very ancient,” as he believed that furniture should be steeped in the symmetry and rationality of Greek design. In 1946, Robsjohn-Gibbings had the chance to make his ideals manifest when he was invited to design a line of furniture for Widdicomb Furniture Company. His furniture line was hailed as a triumph by House Beautiful, and his design for a butler’s table was featured in the landmark Good Design exhibit of 1951 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In addition to working as an interior designer, Robsjohns-Gibbings was also an astute critic of design culture in America and he was noted for his humorous novels like Goodbye, Mr. Chippendale, which poked fun at the American craze for all things antique in interior design. During the 1960s, Robsjohn-Gibbings moved to Athens, the birthplace of classicism, and his apartment overlooked the Parthenon. While living in Greece, Robsjohn-Gibbings designed interiors for both Aristotle Onassis and the Niarchos family. —Wright
Robjsohn-Gibbings studied the furniture of classical Greece extensively and his knowledge of ancient art is apparent in his designs for Saridis of Athens. This drawing is from an amphora dating from the 5th century B.C.