Paul T. Frankl was an Art Deco furniture designer and maker, architect, painter and writer from Vienna, Austria, the son of a wealthy real estate speculator. After Frankl completed his architectural studies at the Berlin Polytechnic, he travelled, spending time in Berlin and Copenhagen before arriving in the United States in April 1914. He settled in New York City and brought with him an outsider's fresh perspective and an enthusiasm for forging a uniquely American design aesthetic. Frankl began as an architect and later switched to designing and painting fine art and furniture. In the years between the two world wars he, more than any other designer, helped shape the distinctive look of American modernism.
In the 1920s, he introduced his celebrated skyscraper style (before turning to metal furnishings in the 1930s). Frankl opened Frankl Galleries on 48th Street, calling his company Skyscraper Furniture, which became an epicenter of American modernism, including modern textiles and wallpapers imported from Europe. He later relocated to Los Angeles and opened a gallery on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, where celebrities such as Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Walter Huston and Alfred Hitchcock became clients.
He established the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen (AUDAC) in 1928. His style continuously evolved, from early skyscraper furniture to relaxed and casual designs favored by the Hollywood elite in the 1930s to manufactured pieces for the mass market in the 1950s. In 1934 he moved to Los Angeles where he taught at the University of Southern California and the Chouinard Art Institute.