Paul Frankl Decorative Objects

Paul T. Frankl (USA, 1886–1958)
Born in Vienna, Paul Frankl came to the United States in 1914 as part of a wave of Central European design luminaries — among them Kem Weber, Rudolph Schindler, and Richard Neutra — who were drawn by the energy and optimism of the American scene. Prolific and protean, Frankl would go on to design furnishings that are emblematic of nearly every key stylistic chord in American modernism, from the streamlined Art Deco to free-form organic shapes.

     His “Skyscraper” cabinets, introduced in 1924, are Frankl’s earliest and best-known designs (and the work by which he is most often represented in institutions, such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art). Tall and narrow, the pieces have staggered shelves meant to mimic the setbacks of Manhattan office towers. A later visually expressive line — the “Speed” chairs and sofas, which have a raked profile suggesting motion — links Frankl to Donald Deskey, Raymond Loewy and other creators of “Streamlined Moderne” design.

     Frankl moved to Los Angeles in 1934 and luxuriated in the climate and lifestyle. His designs became lighter and simpler and found an audience among the Hollywood élite. (Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Fred Astaire were clients.) Fascinated by Asian arts, Frankl produced numerous pieces — tabletops with edges that curve upward; sofas and chairs with rattan frames — inspired by Chinese and Japanese forms and materials. In the 1940s, Frankl became one of the first designers to incorporate free-form, biomorphic shapes in his work, as well as novel upholstery fabrics such as denim and nubby wool.

     Frankl biographer Christopher Long argues that the designer’s easy, elegant aesthetic had an enormous influence on movie set design. As the furniture below attests, Paul Frankl’s work is ready for its close-up.

"Modernique" Clock by Paul Frankl for Warren Telechron Company, circa 1928
"Modernique" Clock by Paul Frankl for Warren Te...
Paul Frankl, Warren Telechron Co.
Vintage 1920s American Art Deco Table Clocks and Desk Clocks
Enamel, Chrome
This rare iteration of the iconic “Modernique" was designed for the Warren Telechron Company by Paul Frankl, circa 1928. During a time when the majority of electric clocks sold for a...
Paul Frankl Telechron American Moderne Deco Clock, 1928
Paul Frankl Telechron American Moderne Deco Clo...
Paul Frankl
Vintage 1920s American Machine Age Mantel Clocks
The iconic American Deco Frankl 'Skyscraper' mantel clock. Polished silver over brass with black bakelite base. This rare 'top of line' deco item retains the original bevelled glass ...
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