Kay Leroy Ruggles Directional Industries, Inc.
Umbo Stacking Chair
Kay Leroy Ruggles, designer
American, 1932 - 2012
Directional Industries, Inc., manufacturer
American, 1963 - 1975
Umbo Stacking Chair, ca. 1965
73 x 44.7 x 45.7 cm (28 3/4 x 17 5/8 x 18 inches)
Gift of the Estate of Samuel Cate 2003.97.1
The late 1960s and early 1970s were beset by economic recession, the Vietnam War, and widespread student protests. General uncertainty and the questioning of normative rules led designers to doubt the rationalism of Modernism, as permanent solutions seemed unrealistic in a rapidly changing world. Industrial designer Kay Ruggles responded with the Umbo furniture line, which he described as “clean, simple, and inexpensive” and specifically designed for “young people under 30 [who] in their rejection of everything else … might be rejecting the ideals of old furniture.” Ruggles embraced the new material of plastic, creating modular omponents and pieces, such as these stacking chairs, which could be easily configured, reconfigured, or stored.