Douglas Kelley ( b.1928 ) American Industrial Designer

T Chair designed by Douglas Kelley
T Chair designed by Douglas Kelley

Designed T-chair and the Elna Lotus Sewing Machine

Douglas Kelley (born 1928) is an American industrial designer best known for creating the T-chair and the Elna Lotus sewing machine.


Kelley studied at New York City’s Pratt Institute, where he met Ross Littell and William Katavolos. They began designing furniture, textiles, and dinnerware for Laverne Originals, a furniture company. They designed the ‘T-chair’ while at Laverne, which won the A.I.D (American Society of Interior Designers) Award for best furniture design in the United States in 1952.

Elna Lotus Sewing Machine
Elna Lotus Sewing Machine


The chair has three chrome steel legs joined by a black enamelled steel T-stretcher. ‘We sought furniture that would work within a way of building, which would not complement or compete but in a sense continue the programme of lines and planes and function as structural elements of the whole,’ according to the chair’s sales brochure. The chair is now housed in the permanent collections of MOMA, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Vitra Design Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Kelley then accepted Raymond Loewy’s invitation to join La Compagnie de l’Esthetique Industrielle (CEI) in Paris as managing director. He was there for six years (1960–1966) and worked on designing the iconic Elna Lotus sewing machine. He then resigned to lead Lippincott and Margulies’ newly established design office in London. Shortly after, he established Douglas Kelley Associates on Jermyn Street in London.


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

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