Irving Harper: Works in Paper

An intimate monograph of the professional and personal creations of a midcentury design legend. Irving Harper is the most famous designer you have never heard of. Working as an associate at the office of George Nelson in the 1950s and ’60s, Harper was responsible for such icons of midcentury design as the Marshmallow sofa, the Ball clock, and numerous Herman Miller textile designs. Harper’s unrecognized contribution to this seminal era of design, and his incredible paper sculptures (made in his spare time to "relieve stress"), are presented for the first time in this book. An essay by design critic Julie Lasky introduces Harper’s commercial design work, recognizable designs from graphics to domestic goods to furniture that are still coveted and appreciated today, designed for the offices of Raymond Loewy, George Nelson, and then his own studio Harper + George. The second part of the book documents Harper’s extensive paper sculptures, which have never been exhibited. More than three hundred works fill Harper’s house and barn in Rye, New York, where this array of fantastical people and animal sculptures was created from modest and inexpensive materials as diverse as spaghetti and toothpicks in addition to paper. Images of Harper’s home, filled with furniture and objects of his own design as well as his paper sculptures, offer a rare glimpse into a Modern design enthusiast’s paradise.Offering insight into an important era of American design as well as the prolific output of a creative mind, this book promises to be the first to recognize Irving Harper’s contribution to the field and will appeal to fans of Modern design.

About The Author

Michael Maharam is the CEO of Maharam, a recipient of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Design Patron, and the author of Maharam Agenda. Julie Lasky is Deputy Editor, Home at the New York Times and was formerly the editor-in-chief of I.D. and Interiors.

  • Publish Date: February 12, 2013
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Design - Product
  • Publisher: Skira Rizzoli
  • Trim Size: 7-3/4 x 9-3/4
  • Pages: 176
  • US Price: $45.00
  • CDN Price: $50.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-4001-4


“Irving Harper…does incredible things with paper—abstract and realistic, monochromatic and colorful, fanciful and farcical—has been collected in the stunningly designed Irving Harper...” ~New York Times Book Review

“…a sprawling love letter to an under-appreciated design master, a man who not only birthed some of the last century’s most inspiring work, but also made time to craft jaw-dropping works of art from common materials…filled with beautiful photography of Harper’s art and his home, this book paints a lovely portrait of a quiet but wildly creative man and his work.” ~Design Sponge

“Works In Paper
surveys Harpers’ unparalleled creativity in the form of nearly 300 paper sculptures produced as a pastime over a forty-year period. Rarely seen, these works have been carefully restored, documented, and assembled for the first time. His ingenious craftsmanship elevated humble materials like construction paper and toothpicks…”

“When he wasn’t designing some of the most iconic mid-century pieces of the day, Harper was creating beautiful paper sculptures. The stunning pieces he produced are the focus in Irving Harper Works in Paper.”~ Design Observer

"...not only presents an array of these amazing pieces, but also provides an enlightening survey of his diverse career" ~Elle Decor

"The designer’s whimsical side is abundantly evident in his private works—a collection of almost 300 charming paper objects collected here for the first time.." ~Art Centron Newspaper

"The first look at his charming and deft paper sculptures that draw on everything from Picasso to animal skulls, 300 examples of which are included." ~Art & Auction

"...A 40-plus-year archive of paper sculptures by Irving Harper" ~Surface