Griswold Symbol, designed by Peter Muller-Munk — the most beautiful midcentury modern cookware ever

griswold symbol peter muller munkGriswold “Symbol” cookware — designed by famed industrial designer Peter Muller Munk circa 1964: I believe this might well be the most beautiful mid-century modern cookware ever made. Up until two weeks ago, I didn’t even know it existed. And now, I didn’t score just vintage — I scored New Old Stock Mint in Box eye-popping orange dutch oven and two-quart saucepan perfection. Love fest ‘o artsy fartsy photos — and then, the scanned brochure — follow. 

peter-muller-munk-griswold-symbol--10Peter Muller-Munk, industrial designer

The Griswold Symbol cookware line was designed by Peter Muller-Munk. I had never heard of him before reading this. Indeed, he led one of the top-10 industrial design firms in the country in the postwar years. Muller-Munk was trained as a silversmith — so these pots and pans must have been a particular labor of love. Since the postage indicia on my box is dated Dec. 19, 1964, I will surmise that the Griswold Symbol line was released in 1964. That’s just three years before Muller-Munk’s death. That means he would have been designing them when he was at the peak of his abilities. (I do believe we get better with age!) Of course, he also had a large firm by then — around 40 people, helping. Note: The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, where Muller-Munk’s firm was based, will feature an exhibition on his work in 2015. I already contacted them to see if they have intrest in featuring my NOS lovelies — wouldn’t that be fabulous!

I wonder why there do not seem to be more of these around. Golly, they are smashing.

peter-muller-munk-griswold-symbol--4“Cook’s Tour of America’s most modern cookware”

Seriously, prepare your eyeballs. I got the good camera out, sought the light, then adjusted the digis in Lightroom, even, to try and ensure that the photos captured the beauty of the rich orange enameled lids. The pans are cast aluminum.

To see the photos enlarged on your screen, just click on them, they should double in size so you can feast your eyes:

griswold-symbol--8 griswold-symbol--22Note: The box was sent to a buyer in Hometown, Illinois. Which really exists. 🙂

griswold-symbol--20 griswold-symbol--18 griswold-symbol--17 griswold-symbol--16 griswold-symbol--15 griswold-symbol--14 griswold-symbol--13 griswold-symbol--11 griswold-symbol--10 griswold-symbol--9And you gotta love the typography as well:

griswold-symbol--19 griswold-symbol--3 griswold-symbol--2 griswold-symbol--1Pretty, huh?So now, onto my scans of the little brochure…

peter-muller-munk-griswold-symbol--1 peter-muller-munk-griswold-symbol--2 peter-muller-munk-griswold-symbol--3peter muller munk peter-muller-munk-griswold-symbol--5 peter-muller-munk-griswold-symbol--6 peter-muller-munk-griswold-symbol--7 peter-muller-munk-griswold-symbol--9peter-muller-munk-griswold-symbol--8Available with a turquoise lid, too

There are a few of these Griswold Symbol pots on ebay right now — one with a turquoise lid, too.

By the time this cookware was introduced, the famed Griswold manufacturing entity and brand was owned by Textron, a conglomerate that still exists today. The Textron logo is shown on the penultimate page of the brochure, in fact. I would do more research … but I’m clearing the decks so’s I can make The Last Roadtrip to World of Tile. I would love to find out more about this cookware line!

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  1. Beverly says:

    Pam, I have been in love with these pans since the moment I saw your post. I saw my first Symbol pan in an antique store yesterday, and bought it to use in my kitchen. I thought perhaps I could sterilize it… not sure. However, I was so excited to find one that did not check under the lid. It has rust, so now I know I cannot use it. I am wondering if you know is there is any “food safe” way to deal with that rust to make the pan useable?

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Beverly, I don’t know the answer to this…. can you believe I gave all mine to the museum? I kinda think I was crazy. Oh well!

  2. Diane says:

    I inherited the sauce pan however my handle is all black and does not say Symbol on it. Mine may be an original griswold

  3. Dietz123 says:

    Pam, this is the coolest post ever. In addition to treating our eyes to beautiful design, you’re going to make history! Well done!

    I am an engineer, so my science background is solid. I have precious little confidence in the safety of modern cookware. I use old skool cast iron. Iron is a vital nutrient, unlike copper, aluminum, or teflon. 🙂 Granted, cast iron is rather heavy, and will probably never be displayed in a museum. So maybe with a few more years of therapy, I can get over not being as cool as Pam. 🙂

    1. pam kueber says:


      However, I think this is cast aluminum…?

      Pieces of Griswold Symbol can be found on ebay pretty inexpensively — in particular, the even larger cooker (different pull).

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