The “Unknown” Irving Richards

Raymor Italian Blue Incised Vase (LEO Design)

Today, Raymor is strongly identified with Italian Mid-Century Modern ceramics.  Few people realize, however, that Raymor was actually an American brand name which made products (especially ceramics) in the United States, Scandinavia, Mexico, Germany and Italy.

New Yorker Irving Richards (born Rappaport), began his business life in 1926, selling used books in Manhattan.  After a little success, he travelled to Paris in search of more stock. While there, he was much-impressed with European design and craftsmanship and decided he wanted to take his career in a more design-oriented direction.  Upon return to the States, he joined Lightolier where he was responsible for traveling to Europe seeking new design ideas for the American lighting market.

In 1935, a mutual friend introduced Richards to the designer Russel Wright who was producing interesting, Modernist spun-aluminum lamps and cookware.  Together, the men founded Russel Wright, Inc.  The company succeeded, especially with their fresh and ground-breaking “American Modern” ceramic dinnerware, mass-produced in Steubenville, Ohio.  In time, Wright sold his share to Richards and in 1941, the company was re-named Raymor Manufacturing Division, Inc.

Richards continued to sell the “American Modern” line and developed a large network of stores and buyers across the country—an address book which proved invaluable when he began to broaden his range of offerings, including imported ceramics from Italy (made by Bitossi) and West Germany (made by Carstens).

Under Richards, Raymor grew and, eventually, was purchased (and re-purchased) by larger conglomerates.  Richards stayed-on as the chief creative leader and tastemaker.  The company continued to design and import cutting-edge European crafts to satisfy a modernizing American taste.

The piece of art pottery, pictured above, is amongst the items imported under the Raymor name.  Please click on the photo to learn more about it.

And thank you to the Mark Hill website, from which the above information was obtained. Please click on the link (below) to learn more about Richards, Raymor, and Mark Hill.