Paul Frankl was an innovative designer who played a crucial role in shaping the Art Deco movement of the 1920s and 1930s. His unique approach to furniture design and use of materials set him apart from his contemporaries and earned him a lasting legacy in the design world. Clean lines, geometric shapes, and new materials like Bakelite and plywood characterized Frankl’s work. His designs were aesthetically pleasing and highly functional, reflecting the modernism and efficiency of the time. In this article, we will delve into the life and work of Paul Frankl, exploring his contributions to the design world and his lasting influence on the industry today. From his early days as a craftsman in Vienna to his later years as a celebrated designer in America, we will examine the legacy of this pioneer of Art Deco design.

Frankl’s contributions to Art Deco design

Paul Frankl‘s work was groundbreaking in the world of Art Deco design. He was among the first designers to use new materials like Bakelite and plywood in his furniture designs. He was also known for his innovative use of geometric shapes, which he used to create aesthetically pleasing and highly functional furniture. Clean lines, bold colors, and simple forms often characterized Frankl’s furniture designs. He believed that furniture should be practical and adaptable to modern living, which led him to create versatile and highly functional pieces.

The History of Art Deco Design

Art Deco was a design movement that originated in France in the 1920s and 1930s. Bold geometric shapes, clean lines, and new materials such as glass, chrome, and Bakelite characterized it. The movement responded to the ornate and highly decorative styles that had dominated the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Various sources, including the Cubist and Futurist movements in art and the streamlined shapes of modern transportation, like airplanes and cars, influenced Art Deco.

Frankl’s famous furniture designs

One of most famous Paul Frankl furniture designs was the Skyscraper bookcase, which he created in 1925. The bookcase was inspired by the Art Deco architecture of New York City, with its clean lines and geometric shapes. The bookcase was made of wood and Bakelite, a new material then. The Bakelite panels were designed to look like skyscraper windows, with a stepped pattern that gave the bookcase a sense of height and drama. The Skyscraper bookcase was a huge success and symbolized the Art Deco movement.

Another famous design of Frankl’s was the Speed chair, which he created in 1930. The chair was made of bentwood and had a sleek, aerodynamic shape reminiscent of modern transportation. The chair was designed to be lightweight and easy to move, making it ideal for modern living. The Speed chair was a popular design featured in many exhibitions of Art Deco design.

Frankl’s influence on contemporary design

Paul Frankl’s influence on contemporary design can be seen in using geometric shapes and new materials in furniture design. His focus on functionality and adaptability to modern living has also influenced contemporary design. Many designers today still look to Frankl’s work for inspiration and continue to incorporate Art Deco elements into their designs.

The enduring appeal of Frankl’s designs

Paul Frankl’s designs have endured over time because of their timeless appeal. His focus on functionality and adaptability to modern living has made his furniture designs practical and versatile. His designs’ clean lines and bold colors also give them a sense of modernity and sophistication. Frankl’s designs continue to be popular today and are often featured in exhibitions of Art Deco design.

How to incorporate Art Deco design into your home

If you want to incorporate Art Deco design into your home, there are a few key elements to remember. Look for furniture that has clean lines and geometric shapes, such as the Skyscraper bookcase or the Speed chair. Use bold colors like red, black, and white to create a sense of drama and sophistication. You can also incorporate new materials like glass and chrome to give it a modern edge.

The impact of Frankl’s legacy on modern design

Paul Frankl’s legacy has had a significant impact on modern design. His focus on functionality and adaptability to modern living has influenced many contemporary designers. His use of new materials and geometric shapes has also become a hallmark of modern design. Frankl’s work continues to be celebrated and studied today, with many exhibitions and retrospectives dedicated to his work.

Exhibitions and retrospectives of Frankl’s work

There have been several exhibitions and retrospectives of Paul Frankl’s work over the years. In 2007, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, held a retrospective of Frankl’s work titled “Paul T. Frankl and Modern American Design.” The exhibition featured over 100 pieces of Frankl’s furniture, decorative objects, archival materials, and photographs. The exhibition was a huge success and helped to solidify Frankl’s place in the history of American design.


Paul Frankl was a pioneer of Art Deco design whose innovative use of materials and geometric shapes helped to shape the movement. His focus on functionality and adaptability to modern living made his furniture designs practical and versatile. Frankl’s legacy continues to influence contemporary design, and his work remains popular today. Whether you are a design enthusiast or simply appreciate beautiful furniture, Paul Frankl’s work will inspire you.