Gilbert Rohde designed some of the most practical and stylish furniture ever made in America. He was an important pioneer in the development of American Modern furniture design. His Paldao Group for the Herman Miller Company (named after the pieces ‘light paldao’ – wood veneer) was an important bridge between European Art Deco and American Modern.
His lines are distinctly late Bauhaus, as are many of his concepts, notably Walter Gropius-style modular and sectional furniture, which Rohde is credited with popularizing in the United States. Rohde liked natural materials, with American maple and exotic hardwoods as veneers and wood or sparse metal hardware. His characteristic wooden drawer pulls of mushroom shape featuring incised wavy lines are easily recognizable.
The overwhelming majority of Rohde's work was designed for corporate manufacturers, notably the Herman Miller Co., for which he also created clocks and lighting fixtures. Rohde was responsible for starting Herman Miller's association with modern design and for steering the firm towards industrial office furniture, a field in which the company remains a worldwide leader today.
Rohde's work is included in major museum collections amongst which: the Brooklyn Museum, the Wolfsonian, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Henry Ford, the Newark Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Dallas Museum of Art. In Europe, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Vitra Design Museum own his work.