Mid-century modern Robsjohn-Gibbings Biomorphic coffee/cocktail table, 1950s.
Cocktail table designed by T.H. Robsjohn Gibbings for Widdcomb constructed of solid carved maple sculptural base and biomorphic glass top.
If you have not read the story of the infamous meeting between T.H. Robsjohn Gibbings and Isamu Noguchi you should, it would be worth your time. Shortly after Noguchi created the sculpted wood and glass coffee table in 1939 for the president of the MOMA, Conger Goodyear, he had a chance meeting in Hawaii with Gibbings and provided Gibbings a plastic mockup of a coffee table but never heard back from him. A few years after the meeting while Noguchi was voluntarily interred in a WW2 Japanese-American internment camp in Potsdam, AZ, Noguchi saw in a design publication the built example of the mockup he had provided Gibbings in Hawaii a few years earlier but represented as a T.H. Robsjohn Gibbings’ design. He contacted the British designer asking for compensation and was basically dismissed being told “anyone can design a three leg coffee table” * While Noguchi did not specifically identify the table, the table in this listing is the only Gibbings table in existence in the early 1940s which at the time was available through Gibbings atelier and after 1947 through Widdicomb. Spurred on by the pirating of his design and subsequent snub, Noguchi set out in 1944 to create a table to one-up his earlier pirated design. George Nelson in his capacity as an editor at Architectural Forum saw the table in Noguchi’s studio and used it in an article ‘How to Make a Table’. In early 1946 when Nelson became design director for Herman Miller and tasked with creating a new line of modern furniture for introduction in 1947, he approached Noguchi who allowed the table to go into production becoming Herman Miller design IN-50 which went on to be the most recognizable coffee table design of the 20th century. Justice be served, Good-Bye Mr. Robsjohn-Gibbings!
* Oral history interview with Isamu Noguchi, 1973 Nov. 7-Dec. 26, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.