The Story Behind Paul T. Frankl's 'Skyscraper Furniture'
How a shelving system intended to accommodate a variety of books—both slender and bulky—became design history.
Skyscrapers, aka buildings that deployed techniques allowing for 10+ stories, were first introduced in the late 19th century, a symbol of advancements in civil engineering and American modernity. Art historian, professor, furniture designer, architect, painter and gallerist Paul T. Frankl gained fame nearly a century ago for his skyscraper-style furniture—smooth, unadorned in design.
Frankl spent the summer of 1925 renovating his cabin Woodstock, New York cabin in an effort to erect a unique shelving system that could accommodate a variety of books, both slender and bulky. He began experimenting with modular construction techniques, which resulted in geometric shapes and unadorned surfaces that, when stacked atop a sharply molded base, mimicked the structural lines and contours of New York’s newest skyscrapers.
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