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Karl Springer Folk Art

American, German, 1931-1991

The Berlin-born, New York–based designer Karl Springer brought a chic, high-fashion sensibility to his coffee tables, mirrors, Lucite lamps and other furnishings. During his heyday in the 1970s, Springer’s work was a favorite of the glamour set, who enjoyed the novelty of pieces finished in rich and striking materials that ranged from exotic hides and skins to lacquer and chromed metal.

In a sense, Springer was a pre-postmodernist. Much as the dull, safe, corporate sameness of late 20th-century modernism prompted Ettore Sottsass, Michael Graves and others to explore new and provocative structures and materials in design and architecture, so, too, was Springer driven to enliven his creations with fresh and alluring energy and sleekness.

Springer came to New York in the late 1950s and found work arranging window displays at the department store Lord & Taylor. He had studied bookbinding in Germany, and, using his meticulous skills, he began crafting desk accessories wrapped in leather as a sideline. These pieces were sold in luxury stores like Bergdorf Goodman and drew a sophisticated clientele that included the Duchess of Windsor.

By 1965, Springer had established his own Manhattan atelier. It was Pierre Scapula, decorator to Jackie and Aristotle Onassis, who spotted Springer's disco-era Onassis chairs — which didn't yet have a name — first commissioned for a private residence in Acapulco, on the floor of the designer’s East 61st Street showroom. Jackie ordered barstools for the couple’s yacht, the Christina O, and dining chairs for their house on the Greek mainland.

At the time of his death, Springer had showrooms as far afield as Los Angeles, Tokyo and Munich.

The chairs, tables, credenzas and other furniture forms Springer created are generally simple, but substantial, and often have robust, rounded lines. The appeal of his work lies in Springer's insistence on exacting construction and, above all, his eye for unusual materials and finishes.

Springer employed Lucite, brass, and gunmetal along with chromed and polished steel, and revived exquisite finishes rarely seen since the days of Art Deco masters such as Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Jean-Michel Frank: shagreen (a type of sharkskin), python, goatskin, bone, horn, and lacquered parchment, as well as fabrics that include batik prints. Made of such materials, Springer’s work is by its very nature flamboyant and eye-catching: a suite of pieces will astonish, and an artfully placed side table in exotic hide will add a surprising spark.

Find a collection of vintage Karl Springer furniture today on 1stDibs.

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Creator: Karl Springer
Karl Springer Two-toned Saturn Round Mirror
By Karl Springer
Located in New York, NY
A elegant Karl Springer "Saturn Mirror" with curved mirrored panels. A Taupe (dark gray-brown) bevelled frame surrounds a bevelled mirror center.
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Pair of Mid-Century Modern Cabinets, Chests, Nightstands, Karl Springer Style
By Karl Springer
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Pair of Mid-Century Modern cabinets, chests, nightstands, karl springer Style Pair of Nightstands or Chests in the Manner of Karl Springer, having a black lacquer and rattan finish. The base giving a floating chest...
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1980s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Karl Springer Folk Art

Materials

Bronze

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Karl Springer folk art for sale on 1stDibs.

Karl Springer folk art are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of wood and are designed with extraordinary care. Many of the original folk art by Karl Springer were created in the mid-century modern style in united states during the 1980s. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider folk art by Beatrice Wood, Gertrud and Otto Natzler, and Curtis Jeré. Prices for Karl Springer folk art can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $9,400 and can go as high as $9,500, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $9,450.

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