The Francis Files
The Notebook: Karl Springer's Everlasting Influence
FEBRUARY 7, 2023 - Written by Kevin O'Gara
It's hard to find an Architectural Digest home tour that doesn't include a piece of furniture made or at least heavily influenced by iconic 20th century designer Karl Springer. His impact on the design world, and modern furniture silhouettes in particular, is indelible.
Berlin-born Springer's style was characterized by a strong Art Deco aesthetic and a meticulous attention to detail. He was renowned for his use of Asian-inspired exotic materials such as snakeskin, shagreen, and parchment, which he incorporated into his furniture designs to create rich and sumptuous textures. His designs were often minimalistic in form, with a focus on clean lines and sleek silhouettes, yet were elevated by the unique materials he utilized.
One of Springer's most iconic creations was his use of lacquered parchment, which he first introduced in the 1970s. This material was highly sought after and was used in many of his most recognizable pieces, including his lacquered parchment coffee table and parchment-covered screen. He was also known for his use of shagreen, a type of rough leather made from the skin of the stingray, which he incorporated into his designs for its unique texture and durability.
While inspired by European designers like Jean-Michel Frank (subject of a future 'Notebook' blog post), Springer's work was some of the most important of the 20th century. His furniture has been so highly reproduced (since it's popularity exploded), but I really only see it as a testament to the far-reaching appeal of his designs!
P.S. A great source for Springer furniture hunting is on Chairish!
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