Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Why I Love Paul Frankl !!

My first piece designed by Paul Frankl was the biomorphic ’Cloud Table’. When I purchased it, the original cork top was covered by Formica. I mean, come on - the laminate was glued to the cork! And not with a little bit of white glue but some super-duper industrial strength bonding cement. It was horrific, but I was determined to have the top restored. Look at the picture above- how beautiful are those splayed legs with the hunk of cork on top? Good news first - I got that table perfect again. The bad news? I subsequently sold it - what was I thinking? But it started me on a Paul Frankl high from which I have never come down.
We now have a glorious circular Paul Frankl coffee table and matching rectangular side tables. We have three of his enormous credenza pieces in storage just waiting on a future dream house. And check out the photo below of that great Frankl sideboard in our showroom. I love Paul Frankl’s design. His pieces from the forties look way more stylized and modern than the usual forties suspects. His later pieces are so simple in design, but so playful and optimistic in feeling. And best of all? He is still an affordable designer - I believe his prices are a bargain compared to his contemporaries from his Brown-Saltman days.
Yes, I admit it - I love Paul Frankl. He was a brilliant designer who was the unfortunate victim of some bad luck over the years. His collaboration with David Saltman in the early 1940’s produced some of his most popular and innovative pieces. With the post war economy coming back strong, Frankl’s line for Brown-Saltman sold better than either men anticipated. Over lunch one day they agreed to a long term contract. Saltman was so excited he said “now my worries are over - I have a designer for life - tomorrow I go fishing!”. The next day on his way to a fishing retreat he was killed in a collision on a sharp curve in the road. Frankl, missing his buddy, decided not to continue working with the firm. He never attained the level of success he deserved.
Check out the book written by Christopher Long, an associate professor at University of Texas, titled “Paul T. Frankl and Modern American Design”. It is quite a good read. But first, look at these gorgeous Frankl pieces I found on 1stdibs, and enjoy!

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