The Ford House

Edsel & Eleanor Ford House tells the story of the home life of a prominent American family.

Interiors: Walter Dorwin Teague

One of the most visible examples of the Fords' broad tastes and dedication to contemporary design came with the addition of the Modern rooms to their home.

Throughout the 1930s, Edsel Ford retained Walter Dorwin Teague to design Ford Motor Company's pavilions and new-product exhibits at world's fairs, auto shows and dealer showrooms. As an industrial designer, Teague's forte was office interiors, buildings, cars, trains and planes. The field of industrial design developed throughout the 1920s was a potent influence in American marketing as consumer goods were modernized for a new mass market. Streamlining, or smoothing the lines, of everything from toasters to automobiles for the illusion - if not the fact - of increased speed was everywhere.

In the mid 1930s, Teague redesigned four rooms in the house in his dramatically modern style of sleek, custom-made furnishings in exotic hardwoods, recessed lighting reflected in mirrored surfaces and leather-paneled walls. These rooms - the boys' bedrooms and sitting room and a game room on the main floor - were intended primarily for use by the Ford's teenaged children. Teague's signature streamlined seating, radios built-in to plastic topped tables, and industrial metallic finishes in copper and brass provided comfortable contemporary rooms for the family.

The fact that these interiors were built into Ford House in the 1930s makes a strong statement about Edsel Ford's vision of the 20th century design and his courage in embracing the work of the most contemporary of the creative geniuses who entered his world.

Click here for the on-line house tour, including a look at the Modern Rooms.

Other Walter Dorwin Teague Resources:

  • Walter Dorwin Teague, Design This Day - the Technique of Order in the Machine Age, NY Harcourt, Brace & Co, 1940; rev. ed. 1949. 
  • Icons of Design: The 20th Century, Prestel Publishing, 2000.