Gordon Obrig, FIDSA, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1908 and had an active career with a common theme—emphasizing practical, everyday living products designed with optimal interaction for humans in mind. His formal career included studies in the Human Engineering Laboratories at Stevens Institute of Technology, NJ in the mid-1930s. An apprenticeship followed with Charles Robeson’s of London, England where production Queen Anne style furniture was comfortably tailored to the human body, with curved seats and backs, cabriole (S-shaped) legs, pad feet and sumptuously grained in veneered wood.
Gordon participated in the 1940s as part-time faculty in the Department of Industrial Design at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. He taught new materials and special techniques in housing design and construction. He also taught these subjects during the late 1940s as faculty at Cooper Union’s School of Architecture, Department of Industrial Design.
In the early 1940s, Obrig was a technical consultant to the Federal Public Housing Authority for design of expandable modular living quarters. He then operated his own business, Gordon Obrig Associates, for 16 years in New York City. His many clients and projects included design of: entertainment furniture (Sylvania Corp., Scott Martin & Co., M. Singer & Sons, Philco Mfg. Co., Fisher Radio Corp. and Regal Electronic Corp.); period modern furniture (Singer Cabinet Shops, Hale furniture, Kane Furniture, Essex Chair Co., Tomlinson of Highpoint, Hamilton Furniture Co., Morgan Furniture Co., Barnard Fels. Inc., Taylor Crifield Co., Cowen Furniture Co., Williams Furniture Corp. and Plymouth Wood Prdts. Corp.); and English Colonial, Regency and French Provincial furniture (Frederick Tibbenham Ltd. of Ipswich, England and NYC).
Obrig carried out his design with a diverse array of materials, incorporating international woods, finishes and fabrics. He utilized porcelain, metals and plastics in the design of lamps, clocks, radios, culinary items, etc. He was appointed by the Atomic Energy Commission to design the handheld Geiger counter for ease of use. In the early 1960s, Gordon was a consultant and technical director for the American Bleached Shellac Manufacturers Association, frequently appearing on popular television shows to demonstrate the products.
In the late 1960s, Obrig was the project manager for Ellen McCluskey Associates in design and reappointment of the Beverly Hills Hotel, NYC Regency Hotel and Warwick Hotel, and the NYC Diner’s Club—plus other prominent hotels in Baltimore and Washington, DC. He later became a partner of Peter Allen Designs, Inc., serving as a coordinator of interior design for redesign of the Buck Hill Inn & Golf Club, PA.
Obrig passed away in 1971 at the age of 63.