Ernő Goldfinger RA (11 September 1902 – 15 November 1987) was a Hungarian-born architect and designer of furniture. He moved to the United Kingdom in the 1930s, and became a key member of the Modernist architectural movement. He is most prominently remembered for designing residential tower blocks, some of which are now listed buildings.
Goldfinger was born in Budapest to a Jewish family. The family business was forestry and saw-mills, which led Goldfinger to consider a career in engineering until he became interested in architecture after reading Hermann Muthesius’s Das englische Haus, a description of English domestic architecture around the turn of the twentieth century. He continued to recommend the book for most of his life.
Goldfinger moved to Paris in 1921, after the defeat and collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1923 he went to study at the École nationale supérieure des beaux arts in the atelier of Léon Jaussely, and in the following years got to know many other Paris-based architects, including Auguste Perret, Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier. In 1929, before finishing his studies, Goldfinger established a partnership and worked on a number of interior designs and an extension to a holiday home at Le Touquet.
He was strongly influenced by the publication of Le Corbusier’s Vers une architecture, and became a fervent admirer of Le Corbusier’s former mentor, Auguste Perret, an expert in designing reinforced concrete structures and an inspiration for Goldfinger when designing his own home. In the early 1930s Goldfinger met and married Ursula Blackwell, heiress to the Crosse & Blackwell fortune. The remainder of his career would be based in the UK.