Scroll through the decades
1930: The Merchandise Mart, designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, debuts in Chicago.
1930: New York’s Chrysler Building, designed by William Van Alen, is—briefly—the world’s tallest.
1930: Jean Prouvé designs a steel chair.
1931: Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye is finished near Paris.
1931: The Empire State Building by Shreve, Lamb, & Harmon is now the world’s tallest.
1931: Edward Wormley begins working for Dunbar Furniture—an association that will endure until 1968.
1932: Alvar Aalto designs the Paimio chair.
1932: The Decorator’s Digest debuts.
1932: The Cranbrook Academy of Art opens in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
1932: Marcel Breuer Associates builds a house in Wiesbaden, Germany.
1932: The first class arrives at Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s new school in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
1933: With Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as the last director, Germany’s Bauhaus is closed by the Nazis.
1933: Herman Miller shows its first modern furniture collection, designed by Gilbert Rohde, at the Century of Progress world’s fair in Chicago.
1934: The Vitra furniture company is founded in Switzerland by Willi Fehlbaum.
1934: Gerrit Rietveld designs his ZigZag chair.
1934: The Rainbow Room opens on the top floor of the RCA Building in New York’s Rockefeller Center.
1935: Dorothy Draper & Co. redecorates the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco.
1935: The ocean liner Normandie, its interiors designed by Jean Dunand and Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, among others, takes its maiden voyage.
1935: Gerald Summers comes out with a tea trolly.
1936: In Racine, Wisconsin, Frank Lloyd Wright completes the Johnson Wax building, home to this desk.
: An architecture firm called Skidmore, Owings & Merrill hangs out a shingle. Read more
1936: In Como, Italy, Guiseppe Terragni designs the Casa del Fascio and its interiors.
1936: The Decorator’s Digest features a Hedrich Blessing photograph of the stairway at a Frazier & Rafferty residence in Lake Forest, Illinois.
1937: Solomon R. Guggenheim establishes an eponymous foundation, setting his museum in motion.
1937: Nelson and Mary Rockefeller move into their New York apartment, designed by Jean-Michel Frank.
1937: Arne Jacobsen wins a competition for the design of the town hall in Aarhus, Denmark.
1938: Hans Knoll establishes a furniture company in New York.
1938: Henry Dreyfuss designs railway car interiors for the Twentieth Century Limited, and Raymond Loewy for the Broadway Limited.
1938: Nylon and Teflon are both developed by DuPont.
1939: Franco Albini designs this desk for himself, two decades before it goes into production for Knoll.
1939: Frank Lloyd Wright completes Fallingwater in Bear Run, Pennsylvania.
1939: Sculptor Isamu Noguchi designs a table with a free-form glass top for the house of Museum of Modern Art president A. Conger Goodyear.
1940: Dorothy Draper & Co. redesigns the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., and Dorothy Draper herself begins broadcasting the radio show Lines About Living.
1940: Achille Castiglioni designs the Leonardo table base for Zanotta.
1941: The December issue of Interior Design and Decoration spotlights a Joseph Mullen residence.
1941: New York’s Museum of Modern Art holds a design competition and showcases the winners—including Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese, and Bernard Rudofsky—in "Organic Design in Home Furnishings".
1942: The Pentagon, at 6.5 million square feet, is the largest office building in the world.
1942: Earl Tupper develops a technique for the injection molding of polyethylene; Tupperware parties will follow.
1943: Before marrying Hans Knoll, Florence "Shu" Schust introduces her first furniture designs, for Knoll.
1943: Hans Wegner leaves the architecture and design firm of Arne Jacobsen and opens his own office.
1943: John Entenza has the California-based Arts and Architecture redesigned by Alvin Lustig and begins publishing a series of "Case Study Houses" that will become famous.
1944: Bruno Mathsson’s father’s company, Karl Mathsson, unveils a lounge chair.
1944: Amancio Williams builds a house atop a bridge at Mar del Plata, Argentina.
1945: George Nelson and Henry Wright publish the best-selling Tomorrow’s House in 1945.
1945: Isamu Noguchi begins designing his Akari paper lanterns; he will eventually design more than 150 different shapes, and more than 100 will still be in production at the end of the century.
1946: Charles and Ray Eames design the LCM chair, picked up by Herman Miller three years later.
1946: Ward Bennett and Ben Baldwin of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill design Cincinnati’s Terrace Plaza Hotel.
1946: MoMA curator Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., follows up with "Modern Rooms of the Last 50 Years" in 1946.
1947: Alvar Aalto begins building the Massachusetts Institute of Technology dormitory shown in this floor plan.
1947: Pierre Chareau designs the studio of painter Robert Motherwell in the shell of a war-era Quonset hut.
1948: Luis Barragán moves into his house in Mexico City.
1948: Knoll launches Eero Saarinen’s Womb chair.
1949: Philip Johnson’s Glass House comes to New Canaan, Connecticut.
1949: George Nelson & Associates’s model room appears in "An Exhibition for Modern Living" at the Detroit Institute of Art.
1949: Marcel Breuer’s prototype house is installed in MoMA’s garden.
1949: The Eames house and studio opens in Pacific Palisades, California.
What milestones did we miss? Share them with the hashtag #id85years.
Text adapted from A Century of Interior Design 1900-2000 (Rizzoli) by Stanley Abercrombie, this magazine’s former editor in chief.
Photography courtesy of Rizzoli International Publications, theMART, Tishman Speyer, Vitra, Paul Kozlowski/FLC/ADAGP, Empire State Building, Dunbar Furniture, Cranbrook Archives, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, Cassina, Paul Warchol, Carnegie Museums, SOM/Richard Garrison, Aarhus Kommune, Raymond Loewy, DuPont, Herman Miller, and Robert P. Ruschak/Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. 1940’s: Photography courtesy of Rizzoli International Publications, the Mayflower Hotel, Zanotta, Museum of Modern Art, Theodor Horydczak, Tupperware Collection, Andy Hurvitz, the Noguchi Museum, Alastair Gordon, and Architectural Resources Group.
Timeline designed by: Darlene Portades
Timeline built by: Joe Zeleny