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About Paul Laszlo (Designer)
The suave architect and interior designer Paul Laszlo made his reputation in Hollywood, where his clients included Barbara Stanwyck, Cary Grant and Elizabeth Taylor. He was aligned to no artistic or design movements, relying on his own, carefully-honed instincts. From the late 1930s to the 1960s, Laszlo’s name was a byword for sumptuous modernity among members of the smart set.
Born in Hungary in 1900, Laszlo learned about quality from his father, a prosperous furniture manufacturer. He studied design in Vienna and had his technical training in Stuttgart, Germany, where, at age 27, he established an upscale design business that gained an international reputation. Nine years later, with the Nazis in power, Laszlo, a Jew, left Germany for the United States and made his way to Los Angeles. There, he established an interior design office in Beverly Hills and was pleased to find that his Stuttgart credentials carried weight. While he took many commercial assignments for American department stores, custom residential work was Laszlo’s stock in trade. He turned his hand to every element in a room, “down to the last ashtray,” Time magazine once wrote. Like his clients, Laszlo appreciated luxury — not the luxury of rare and precious materials, but the luxury of rich colors and textures, and deep comforts. He had a contemporary élan, exemplified by spaces that were bright, airy, uncluttered and up-to-date. The classic earmarks of Laszlo’s furnishings are generous proportions and, in the case of his Paddle and Plank armchairs, namesake armrests that are flat and wide, the perfect spot to rest a cocktail. His case goods, tables and dining chairs have clean, elegant lines; they are simply formed yet warm, with interesting details such as woven veneer door fronts.
In recent years, Laszlo’s designs have found a new audience among fans of his easy-going modernism. Prices are in the neighborhood of $5,000 for cabinets, and from $8,000 to upwards of $20,000 for seating pieces, which are generally found in pairs or groups of six or more. As you will see on these pages, there was a reason that Laszlo’s work was so admired in the mid-20th century: every design contributes to an environment that is comfortable and elegant — at once robust and relaxed.