Portrait of American designer Ross Littell

Ross Littell

American textile and furniture designer


Ross F. Littell (July 14, 1924, Los Angeles, U.S.- April 17, 2000, Santa Barbara, U.S.) was an American textile and furniture designer known for his practical, innovative, and minimalist style as part of the Good Design movement of the 1950s. His three-legged T-chair, designed in 1952 with William Katavolos and Douglas Kelley, is part of the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, along with the Art Institute of Chicago. read more

Ross Littell was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. After high school, he won a four-year scholarship to the Art Center School in Los Angeles, but his education was interrupted in 1943 for military service in the Coast Guard. He resumed his studies at the Pratt Institute in New York, where he graduated with honors and a dual major in graphics and industrial design.  From 1949 to 1955 Littel designed, in collaboration with William Katavolos and Douglas Kelly, furniture, textiles, and dinnerware for Laverne Originals.  In 1957, Littell was awarded a Fulbright fellowship for a year’s study in Italy. During this period, he became increasingly fascinated with texture, pattern and structure, and he photographed more than 2,200 photographs of patterns, such as brick walls and cobblestones, which served him as inspiration for his textile patterns based on mathematical ideas.  Some of these textile patterns were later exhibited in Rome.

In 1956, Littell opened his own studio and began to work as a freelance designer. Much of his work during this time period was done for manufacturers Knoll and Herman Miller. Littell’s 1959 textile design Criss-Cross for Knoll received a citation of merit from the American Institute of Decorators. In 1960, he moved to Copenhagen and later to Italy, where he worked for European manufacturers such the Danish company Unika Vaev and the Italian company DePadova. During this time, Littell focused on developing mathematics-based textiles, metal wall hangings that he called luminars, and a number of fabrics that he designed for Kavadrat. He moved back to California in 1995, where he passed away five years later.

Last updated: November 20, 2018

For more information on Ross Littell go to:
Ross Littell  at Kavadrat
Ross Littell, 75, who designed inventive textiles and furniture  New York Times

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