Russel Wright was an unusual combination of an American craftsman, industrial designer, and naturalist. An independent thinker, not a follower of the newest trends, RW helped create the concept of the industrial designer, an American phenomenon that emerged during the 1920s. An industrial designer is known for designing everything, for being a problem solver, and for being able to design for mass production. Unlike most industrial designers of his age, however, RW basically designed for the home with some work for offices, showrooms, and expositions.
RW also brought his special talents to bear on the relationship between design and natural settings. By the 1950s he was beginning to create an ecologically sensitive woodland garden on his estate, Manitoga, in Garrison, N.Y. During the 1960s he became a consultant to the National Park Service and focused on bringing people into the parks to enjoy nature. At Manitoga he had already begun building a residence and studio, which he named Dragon Rock, to explore ways of bringing daily life closer to nature.
RW was a craftsman at heart who wanted to make household pieces that were beautiful, useful, reasonably priced, and available to everybody. And there was the problem, a problem he struggled with all his life. At times he thought of himself as a failure, but as this book shows, nothing could be further from the truth. Every newlywed couple from the late 1930s through the 50s knew his name, stamped on the bottom of their new china, along with all the other useful and handsome objects that made them proud to be Americans. Today his pieces are prized by museums and avid collectors everywhere.