"American Modern" Dinnerware

Designer: Russel Wright (American, Lebanon, Ohio 1904–1976 New York)

Manufacturer: Steubenville Pottery Company (Steubenville, Ohio)

Date: 1937

Medium: Glazed earthenware

Dimensions: a: H. 10-5/8, W. 8-1/2, D. 6-5/8 in.
b-c: H. 4-7/8, W. 10, D. 6-3/4 in.
d-e: H. 6-3/4, W. 8-1/4, D. 6 in.
f: H. 2-1/2, W. 9, D. 6-1/2 in.
g: H. 1, W. 10-7/8, D. 6-1/4 in.
h: H. 1-1/4, W. 13-1/4, D. 3-5/8 in.
i-j: (each) H. 2-1/8, Diam. 2-1/8 in.

Classification: Ceramics-Pottery

Credit Line: John C. Waddell Collection, Gift of John C. Waddell, 2002

Accession Number: 2002.585.17a–j


The biomorphic forms and softly vibrant color palette of Wright's American Modern service, made of sturdy and inexpensive earthenware, made it one of the most popular ceramic services ever created. The highly sculptural forms of some the pieces in this service, including the teardrop-shaped pitcher with elongated spout, were unlike any other products on the market. Wright promoted the service in novel ways, including offering a starter set of twelve pieces, to which consumers could add over time as their budget and lifestyle dictated. American Modern also came in six interchangeable colors, increasing consumer flexibility in assembling their services. As the best-selling ceramic service ever, Wright's dinnerware proved to be an especially successful example of the Good Design movement, which sought to make well-designed, modern goods available to consumers at every price point.