A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes

Dorothy Liebes Studio (detail), New York City, ca. 1957; Dorothy Liebes Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

July 7, 2023 – February 4, 2024
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
2 East 91st Street
New York, NY

Designer and weaver Dorothy Liebes (1897–1972), who introduced handcraft and brilliant color to the modern interior, was among the most influential designers of the 20th century. The “Liebes Look”—which combined vivid color, lush texture, and often a glint of metallic—became inextricably linked with the American modern aesthetic. Liebes collaborated with the most prominent architects and designers of the mid-20th century, shaping American tastes in areas from interiors to transportation and industrial design, fashion, and film, and worked with dozens of U.S. firms to make her fabrics available at affordable prices. Despite widespread recognition during her lifetime, the details of her long and productive career are largely unknown. This exhibition will establish for the first time the full scope of her contributions as a designer, collaborator, mentor, public figure, and tireless promoter of American modernism.