Man of our Times – Architectural Digest Review

Man of our times

Read This Article in its original German

He designed skyscraper cabinets and furnished the living rooms of Hollywood stars like Fred Astaire and Charlie Chaplin: Paul T. Frankl (1886-1958) defined American modernist design like no other – but in his native Austria, he remained largely unknown. The Kiesler Foundation in Vienna has now taken on an exhibit curated by the American architecture professor Christopher Long and Kiesler expert Laura Mc Guire, which leads us through Frankl’s early Art Deco designs to his metal and rattan furniture, and later biomorphic shapes and mass productions. Thanks to Frankl’s daughter, Paulette, extensive photographic materials are on display.

After studying architecture in Vienna and Berlin, Frankl worked under others in Copenhagen, before he moved to the USA in 1914. “Spring was in the air when I arrived,” he later wrote of his arrival. He wrote about the sights at Grand Central Station and the cosmopolitan mix of artists and intellectuals. The promise of the American dream was in the air – and for Frankl, it was fulfilled. First in New York and later in Los Angeles, he opened the Frankl Galleries, where he sold his own furniture designs but also imported goods from Europe (such as textiles and wallpapers). They became fixtures of the interior design scene, and Frankl became one of the stylistic masters of the United States (not in the least through his books).

According to the catalog, the show at the Foundation draws parallels to the work of Frederick Kiesler, who emigrated some years after Frankl to the U.S. and was also involved in the “American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen.” But while Kiesler primarily thought of multi-functionality, for Frankl – despite all his stylistic control – one thing was always in the foreground: comfort. But the what, why, and how we can best learn from Frankl himself: alongside the exhibition his autobiography is published for the first time. In addition to his personal memories – of meeting with Frank Lloyd Wright to his studies in Japan – we can experience the birth of modern design.

– Architectural Digest, Karen Bofinger, November 18, 2013
(quote has been translated from its original German)