Ruth Adler Schnee

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Ruth Adler Schnee
Ruth Adler

(1923-05-13) May 13, 1923 (age 96)
EducationHarvard University
Alma materRhode Island School of Design,
Cranbrook Academy of Art
Known forContemporary textile design
StyleMid-Century Modern
Spouse(s)Edward Schnee

Ruth Adler Schnee (May 13, 1923) is an American textile designer and interior designer based in Michigan. She is one of the many founding figures of contemporary textile design in the United States. She is best known for her modern prints and abstract-patterns of organic and geometric forms. She opened the Ruth Adler-Schnee Design Studio with her spouse Edward Schnee in Detroit, which operated until 1960. The studio produced textiles[1] and later branched off into Adler-Schnee Associates home decor, interiors and furniture.[2]


Ruth Adler was born on May 13, 1923, in Frankfurt, Weimar Republic Germany, to the German-Jewish family of Marie and Joseph Adler.[1][3] The family later moved to Düsseldorf.[4] They fled Germany shortly after Kristallnacht in 1938 and before the start of World War II.[1][3] She graduated from Cass Technical High School in 1942.[5]

In 1944 she studied under Walter Gropius at Harvard University, after receiving a fellowship to the Harvard University Graduate School of Architecture and Design.[1] In 1945, she received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).[1] Adler-Schnee interned with Raymond Loewy in New York City and she received a master of fine arts degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art[2] in 1946, becoming the first woman to receive a graduate degree in architecture from the school.[4] She also won a Chicago Tribune residential design competition in 1946.[6] She studied architecture with Eliel Saarinen at Cranbrook and it was here she became interested in textile design.[1]

In 1948 she married Edward Schnee, a Yale University graduate in economics, and he helped her grow her business. Together they opened the Adler-Schnee home store in Detroit.[7]

In 1952 Adler Schnee worked with Buckminster Fuller on the Ford Rotunda by contributing drapery.[4] Her work was also included in the General Motors Technical Center designed by Eero Saarinen and Minoru Yamasaki's World Trade Center (1973–2001) in New York.[4]

She was the subject of a 2010 documentary, The Radiant Sun: Designer Ruth Adler Schnee directed by Terri Sarris of the University of Michigan.[4][8]

She was awarded The Kresge Foundation's 2015 Kresge Eminent Artist for lifetime achievement in her introduction of post-war modernism to the Detroit area.[4][9]

Adler Schnee has a design contract with KnollTextiles, a branch of Knoll.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Ruth Adler Schnee". Michigan Modern. Retrieved 2017-09-29.
  2. ^ a b "Ruth Adler Schnee - A Selection of Printed Drapery Fabrics". Cranbrook Art Museum. Retrieved 2017-09-29.
  3. ^ a b "Knoll Designer Bios, Ruth Adler Schnee". Knoll. Retrieved 2017-09-29.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Design pioneer Ruth Adler Schnee wins $50K Kresge Prize". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2017-09-29.
  5. ^ "Iconic textile designer Ruth Adler Schnee going strong". Detroit News. Retrieved 2017-09-29.
  6. ^ Smith, Alissa (January 31, 2018). "Ruth Adler Schnee's modern textile designs come to Sangre de Cristo Arts Center". Colorado Springs Independent. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  7. ^ Gay, Cheri Y. (2011). "Edward and Ruth Adler Schnee Papers, 1828-2009 (Bulk 1942-2009) donated May 17, 2010" (PDF). Cranbrook Archives. Retrieved 2017-09-29.
  8. ^ "The Story of Ruth: Textile Legend Ruth Adler Schnee". Interior Design. 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2017-09-29.
  9. ^ a b "Ruth Adler Schnee Wins the 2015 Kresge Eminent Artist Award". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2017-09-29.

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