Architect and designer Edward Stone (1902-1978) lived out one of those catapults to fame that littered the collective desire of the American people during and after the war years. Born in Fayetteville, Arkansas Stone attended the State University but left after several semesters to pursue a career in Boston where he attended night classes at the city Architectural Club. His projects caught the eye of Boston architect Henry Shepley who hired Stone to work in his office and renovate one of Harvard's buildings. After only a year with Shepley, Stone received a scholarship to attend Harvard's architecture school. He soon transferred again to M.I.T. where he received a two-year scholarship to travel in Europe.
In Europe Stone was easily seduced by modernism and the budding International Style of the Bauhaus and Le Corbusier's machine aesthetic. He hit the ground running when he returned, designing private houses like a 1935 home for Richard Mandel and a house for the Goodyear retreat on Long Island. These structures were some of the first American interpretations of the European style. During the Depression Stone managed to continue working, designing graphics for advertising and lighting fixtures, although his emerging personal style was curbed by his inability to choose his own projects. Commissions he received to design interiors for the Waldorf and Radio City Music Hall, and his design of the MoMA in 1937 set him back on the path to permeating New England with an internationally inspired modernist aesthetic.
In a 1958 article in Time magazine Stone described his working philosophy as a "need for richness, exuberance and pure, unadulterated freshness." He garnered a great deal of respect for his work on resorts like the 1946 El Panama Hotel, for which he received a gold medal from the Architectural League, and the 1954 Hotel Phoenicia in Beirut that was the height of cool modernism, perfect for the new class of jet-setters. Two of the other projects that identified him as an ambassador of American architecture and style were the US Embassy in New Delhi and the US Pavilion for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. A pervasive visual motif in his architecture was a layer of grille-work over the structure like a veil. Although he received criticism for the redundancy of this device, Stone maintained that it, "serves not only to satisfy a wistful yearning on the part of everyone for pattern, warmth and interest, but also serves the desperately utilitarian purpose of keeping the sun off glass and giving privacy."
During the 1950s Stone also designed furniture, distributed through a company called Fulbright Industries in Arkansas and sold out of showrooms in New York, Miami, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco. His main pieces were a chaise longue, a small table or magazine rack and a side chair, each a minimal form in tightly woven cane and billed as "furniture that is at once forthright, sophisticated and comfortable."
Stone wrote two autobiographies, The Evolution of an Architect (1962) and Recent and Future Architecture (1967). His expansive correspondence with design luminaries like Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Eero Saarinen, Donald Deskey and Frank Lloyd Wright is archived in a collection he donated to the library at the University of Arkansas where he taught for many years.