It's all true: Russel Wright (b.1904, d. 1976) beat Martha Stewart to the punch by 50 years. The first designer to successfully market his wares using his own name as a well-defined brand, Wright rode the crest of the Modernist wave for over 20 years. And he did it all -- furniture, accessories, dishes, glassware, table linens, art pottery, and much, much more. There were many famous and fabulous industrial designers working successfully in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, but nobody brought modern sensibilities to the masses to the extent Wright did. His permeation of the American consciousness at such an early time is truly extraordinary.
Finally, Wright, who died in 1976, has recently started receiving the attention he deserves. The comprehensive exhibit "Russel Wright: Creating American Lifestyle" ran at the highly respected and influential Cooper-Hewitt design museum in NYC in 2001 and 2002 to wide acclaim. Here in our own hometown Dallas, Wright's work was quite prominently featured at the Dallas Museum of Art's landmark "From Tabletop to TV Tray" 20th Century dinnerware exhibit, which traveled to several other major cities in 2002. Examples of Wright's work are now on permanent display at major museums across the nation.
If you're interested in learning more, the late Ann Kerr's Collector's Encyclopedia of Russel Wright, published by Collector Books, is a terrific place to start. We also now have several other excellent references, including:
> Joe Keller and David Ross' Russel Wright Identification and Price Guide, published by Schiffer Books.
> Donald Albrecht and Robert Schonfeld's Russel Wright: Creating American Lifestyle, published by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.