Born in Vienna, and trained in Berlin during the early years of the 20th century, when it emerged as the most exciting center of modern architecture and the cradle of industrial design, Frankl can be credited for formulating a distinctive American approach to modernism. Like other proponents of his generation, he was fascinated with transportation and with daily life in Manhattan, capturing its newly-built skyscrapers and the paste of life in his furniture designs.
The suite of armchairs and coffee table in cork demonstrates Frankl's interest in innovation and in newly-discovered materials. The chairs, so-called 'Speed' for the flowing lines and dynamic movement at the core of their forms, were produced in a large number, and have come to be considered among his most iconic forms. However, what makes the examples exhibited at Design Miami/ unique, is the use of cork veneer, and the fact that he made them for his own home, as shown in the photo below (from Christoper Long's monograph 'Paul T. Frankl and Modern American Design'). These are among the earliest known examples in cork by Frankl, who like Frank Lloyd Wright and other architects working during the 30s, perceived cork as the material of the present, representing the quest for hygiene and modernity. Frankl fell in love with cork and made it one of his primary materials, when later in his career, during the postwar years, he created furniture collections for the Johnson Furniture company.
For these reasons, I have selected Paul Frankl's suite for my Selects in Design Miami/, which I will post here next week.