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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jean-Michel Frank

Jean-Michel Frank (1895-1941) was one of the most influential of the French modernist designers and decorators. He was born to a family of multinational bankers which included the famed diarist Anne Frank. He was educated at the Lycée Janson de Sailly in Paris, and in 1932 opened a shop with decorator Adolphe Chanaux at number 140 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.

Frank made his name and established his signature style when he decorated the Paris apartment of the Vicomte Charles de Noailles and his wife, progressive patrons of the arts at the time. Photographer Man Ray's black-and-white images of the apartment contributed to Frank's reputation.

Although he occasionally used bright colors, he is best known for his emphasis on non-colors. According to his niece, his favorite color was white. He was a master of luxurious understatement and decorated with materials such as rye-straw marquetry, creamy glove leather, mica, travertine, vellum, sanded oak, lacquer and shagreen.

The files of the Parsons School of Design credit the famous Parsons table to Frank, the American designer Joseph B. Platt and an unknown student at the school's Paris branch. Frank sketched the table on a blackboard and suggested a table "of the simplest possible design" that could be elegantly covered with mother-of-pearl, parchment, lacquer or ivory.

Frank's personal life was fraught with tragedy. While he was in law school in 1915, both his older brothers died on the front line during World War I, and his father committed suicide. In 1919 he lost his mother, who had been institutionalized for several years. He fled Europe in 1939, going first to South America and then to the United States.

In 1941, devastated by the Nazi occupation of France and a failed love affair, he took his own life by jumping from a Manhattan building.

From, and

Parchment side table

Chairs for the Fritz Mandl home

Cube armchair

Oak and doehide armchair for the Llao Llao Hotel in Patagonia

Nesting table

Iron and leather settee


  1. Dear Dana, I love the lether settes. As always I learned a lot by reading your post. Sorry for less comments the lasts months, but my youngsters need my love and support very much.
    I saw you reach the 3 million mile, congratulation!
    Send you my best wishes, Ria

    1. It's always so good to see a comment from you, Ria. And you're right about that leather settee. It's great!

  2. All stunning pieces, but as you both pointed out, the leather settee is uniquely wonderful. I very much appreciate the bits of information and history you tuck into your posts.

    1. I love researching. A big part of the fun I get out of blogging is learning all this myself. I'm glad you enjoy it too.