Merton Lyman Moss, depicted in the painting above, is here because we wanted a visual, and visceral, representation of the direction moss has now taken, a direction derived from a longer view of the work we have been so steeped within for twenty years, a view informed by a revolutionary time in our history, the Second Industrial Revolution, a time of great advancement, terrible turmoil, and extraordinary wealth and privilege in the context of convulsive social change, and the establishment of a new form of philanthropy in the US.
Since its notional founding in the mid-19th century by philanthropist Merton Lyman Moss, moss bureau has refined the philosophical, creative, cultural and commercial fundaments governing the international moss brand. During its most recent incarnation, as retail gallery for eighteen years in SoHo, you will have become accustomed to a moss confined and defined by a white-walled gallery setting. But now those walls are gone, and we have broken free, ranging wide across New York and often the rest of the world. moss as gallery is receding, as the time for storefront retail slowly passes, just as moss bureau emerges, as consultant, curator, advisor, lecturer and trusted liaison between designer and consumer.
Prominent in the entrance to Moss Bureau is a circa 1865 American oil painting of Moss Bureau founder, Merton Lyman Moss - a robust young gentleman with a dashing bow tie, proudly wearing his newly-earned Yale gold key. The painting is genuine, though the Bureau logo was recently added. Our founder is, of course, fictitious; his first and middle names, inscribed on a brass plaque, are taken, with respect and affection, from our fathers’ names: Merton Moss and Lyman Getchell.
This was a time when the industrialist Robber Barons--Frick, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Fisk, Astor, Mellon, Morgan, Gould, and others—recognized an obligation to use their enormous wealth to educate a burgeoning middle class, in, among other issues, the shaping of newly mechanized mass production of domestic goods, functional and decorative. Prior to this time, there was no industrial production. There was only craft. And suddenly, the world of “things"--objects--had changed.
Through their establishment and patronage of many of our great museums and universities--the Metropolitan, the Frick, the Cooper-Hewitt, Vanderbilt University, Rockefeller University, Carnegie Mellon, Astor Library, National Gallery of Art, to name but a few--these men committed to educate the general public to what they believed was good and worthy, and the general public, after an assassination or two, responded.
Merton Lyman Moss hangs in our new establishment to lend us inspiration, and to remind us of our own obligation to share what we have learned, and to further the revolution.