Karl Springer (1931 – 1991) was a designer and manufacturer of luxury furniture and a wide array of accessories.
He was the president and sole owner of Karl Springer Ltd., with showrooms in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo and additional outlets in Munich and Chicago.
His signature styles were classical Chinese and Art Deco, the latter inspired by his predecessors Ruhlmann and Jean-Michel Frank. Other influences seen in his creations ranged from the Bauhaus of Germany, his native country, to the Ashanti of Africa. Craftsmen around the world implemented his designs and he traveled widely to oversee the workshops and to scout for new ideas, forms and materials.
Mr. Springer was credited with reviving shagreen, the rough skin of an Asian shark, which had been popular as a fabric in the 1920’s but had fallen out of favor. He brought the use of lacquered parchment back into furniture manufacture as well and also worked with inlaid-wood veneers, rare woods, metals, faux finishes and granite.
Mr. Springer’s quest for high quality imbued his work with a sense of scale and proportion. He demanded attention to detail and uncompromising craftsmanship, which won him respect throughout the design industry.
Mr. Springer was born in Berlin and came to New York in 1957, bent upon becoming a bookbinder. Given a job at Lord & Taylor, Mr. Springer put the skills of bookbinding to use to create small, decorative objects covered in fine leathers and skins, developing new methods as he went along. His handmade designs caught the eye of a buyer for Bergdorf Goodman and soon began to attract a discerning clientele.
He managed to establish his first, tiny workshop in the early 1960’s and started concentrating on furniture design in 1965. His business flourished after the Duchess of Windsor came across his designs and praised them to her many acquaintances.