The first major publication devoted to weaver and designer Dorothy Liebes, reinstating her as one of the most influential American designers of the twentieth century
At the time of her death, Dorothy Liebes (1897–1972) was called “the greatest modern weaver and the mother of the twentieth-century palette.” As a weaver, she developed a distinctive combination of unusual materials, lavish textures, and brilliant colors that came to be known as the “Liebes Look.” Yet despite her prolific career and recognition during her lifetime, Liebes is today considerably less well known than the men with whom she often collaborated, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Henry Dreyfuss, and Edward Durrell Stone. Her legacy also suffered due to the inability of the black-and-white photography of the period to represent her richly colored and textured works.
Extensively researched and illustrated with full-color, accurate reproductions, this important publication examines Liebes’s widespread impact on twentieth-century design. Essays explore major milestones of her career, including her close collaborations with major interior designers and architects to create custom textiles, the innovative and experimental design studio where she explored new and unusual materials, her use of fabrics to enhance interior lighting, and her collaborations with fashion designers, including Clare Potter and Bonnie Cashin. Ultimately, this book reinstates Liebes at the pinnacle of modern textile design alongside such recognized figures as Anni Albers and Florence Knoll.
Beautifully designed by Estudio Herrera, the book offers the reader a tactile experience. The real cloth cover with silkscreened typography and inset photograph opens to reveal an exposed spine and colored threads that tie together the page signatures and echo Liebes’s own craft.
Published in association with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (July 7, 2023–February 4, 2024)
About the Author
Susan Brown is associate curator and acting head of textiles at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian American Design Museum. Alexa Griffith Winton, manager of content and curriculum at Cooper Hewitt, is a design historian and leading Liebes scholar.
“[Dorothy Liebes] has all the elements of a 20th-century design legend, but she isn’t a household name yet. This exhibition, and its handsome accompanying monograph, will surely change that.”—Sarah Archer, T List (newsletter, New York Times T Magazine)
“Textile designer Dorothy Liebes emphasized tactility, luminousness, and contrast by combining natural and synthetic fibers in neon shades. . . . [This] book, with essays by seven experts and a comprehensive biographical timeline, accompanies a Liebes retrospective. . . . Ms. Liebes, although underappreciated now, practically blanketed the world with products while battling corporate misogyny. Factories adapted her handwoven samples for mass-market clothing and furnishings, and she lined mansions and offices with sumptuous one-offs.”—Eve M. Kahn, New York Times
“Enclosed in a dark green, cloth-covered case binding with an electric lime-colored serif font and aqua-teal end papers (a nod to Liebes’s penchant for analogous colors), a generous selection of lush, full-page close-ups display her weavings in tremendous detail. . . . With thorough and caring scholarship and curation, A Dark, A Light, A Bright feels like a love letter to the path-forging designer.”—Julie Schneider, Hyperallergic