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Harvey Probber

Harvey Probber Nuclear Sert

Designed 1946

Probber’s most significant design breakthrough came when he was exploring approaches to seating furniture and found that, in his words, “the key to salvation was in bits and pieces of plane geometry… they were meaningless alone, but when fused to conventional shapes, profoundly altered their character. These “bits and pieces” became templates for the line he named the Sert Group, after Spanish- born architect Jose Luis Sert.

Probber referred to the concept as a modular system, a name not then in use, and the individual pieces as modules. Taking the concept further, he introduced “nuclear furniture” – which included occasional tables with interchangeable pedestals, in different shapes and sizes that could, like seating, be clustered in varying configurations.

M2L has the exclusive license to produce and distribute Harvey Probber designs.

Nuclear Sert® is a registered trademark of M2L, Inc.

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Harvey Probber (1922-2003) was born in Brooklyn, New York, and designed his first sofa at age 16, selling it for $10. By the time he finished high school, he was selling sketches of furniture to companies in Manhattan. Probber was an autodidact, having very little formal training at a time when most designers had formal architectural or art degrees.

He did, however, take a few night classes at Pratt Institute and had on- the-job training in furniture production while working for Trade Upholstery. After serving in the Coast Guard during the 1940s, Probber worked briefy as a cabaret singer, but by 1945 he had opened Harvey Probber, Inc. Realizing that post-war families wanted more fexibility in their homes and their lifestyles, he was the frst to introduce modular seating. His pieces had understated modern lines combined with decorative hardware, rare woods and sumptuous upholstery, sometimes in surprisingly bright colors.

Probber was not a household name during his lifetime as were some of his contemporaries, but his furniture is considered highly collectible today.

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