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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Paul Frankl

Paul Frankl (1886-1958) was born in Vienna where he studied architecture before coming to the United States in 1914. He was one of the principal shapers of American modernism.

Soon after arriving in the U. S., he began designing stage sets for the Theater Guild, and shortly thereafter he began designing furniture with shapes reminiscent of the Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building. He called this series his Skyscraper furniture, and it is emblematic of the Art Deco period.

In the early 1920s  Frankl opened a shop in New York City, and his work included furniture, accessories, modern textiles, wallpaper and an interior design service. In addition to his Skyscraper line, he began to create furnishings with Asian influence which featured lacquer surfaces.

In 1928 he was co-founder of the American Designer's Gallery and in 1930 he founded the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen. He gave lectures on "The Skyscraper in Decoration" and wrote New Dimensions:  The Decorative Arts of Today (1928); Form and Re-Form (1930) and Space for Living: Creative Interior Decoration and Design. (1938)

In 1934 he moved to California, where he taught at the Chouinard Art Institute and the University of Southern California. He opened a shop on Rodeo Drive which catered to the Hollywood elite, such as Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Alfred Hitchcock and designed for the mass market into the 1950s.

Some of his best-known work include his early use of biomorphic designs and new materials such as cork. He is also known for his rattan outdoor furniture.

From,, and

Skyscraper cabinet

Biomorphic cork coffee table

Checkerboard step tables

Console table

Cork coffee table 

Cork side table

Cork and mahogany bench

Speed settee

Rattan setee

Rattan chair and ottoman


  1. That Skyscraper cabinet is fantastic. I want one.

    Upside down pretzels are cool too.

    1. Can't you imagine how excited people were to bring those Skyscraper cabinets home in a time when real skyscrapers were first being built? When I was a kid, lots of people still had the rattan lounge furniture on their covered back porches or sun rooms. I still remember those very well.

  2. O yes, the skyscraper cabinet is stunning!! What a myriad of drawers and little shelves, it would take forever to explore!! I love it!

    1. Wouldn't it have been wonderful if your grandparents had owned one when you were a kid. You could have spent hours finding treasures.