Abstract

This article examines the relationship between design consultants and big business in post-war America by focusing on hand weaver Dorothy Liebes and her most important client, the chemical giant E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Between 1955 and 1971, Liebes was DuPont's principal home-furnishings consultant, helping the world's largest manufacturer of synthetic fibres to build commercial markets for dramatically new products like Orlon acrylic and Dacron polyester. Based in New York, Liebes created modernist ‘idea fabrics’ that showed designers, textile mills, architects, and interior decorators how synthetics might be used in draperies, upholstery, and carpets. As part of the U.S. fibre industry's most advanced marketing effort, Liebes—who served as DuPont spokeswoman in public appearances and on television—helped overcome elitist biases against ‘unnatural’ materials and make synthetics the fibre of choice among interior designers.

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