by Vanna Villa

Karl Springer, born in 1931 in Germany, emigrated to New York City in 1957.  He studied book binding while working at Lord and Taylor and began making small pieces such as telephone tables and picture frames covered in snake skin as well as other exotic materials.  In the 1960’s his work was discovered by the Duchess of Windsor and she became his first collector, helping to launch his career.  He opened a large showroom in New York City and later had showrooms in Miami, Los Angeles and even Tokyo. Karl Springer was dedicated to uncompromising quality using simple forms and exotic luxurious materials, taking his inspiration from Art Deco.  His apartment was featured in Architectural Digest (January/February 1977) and he stated, “Quality, that is what is most important to me.  The integrity of surfaces, the elements of restraint – these make luxury more piquant. 

Everything depends in the end on uncompromising workmanship and rigid control, all in the pursuit of quality.  As for me, I allow nothing to represent me that is not my best effort.” He was responsible for the resurgence of materials such as shagreen and goatskin in the 1970’s and 80’s which had fallen out of favor after the 1930’s.  His pieces were incorporated into many high end interiors of the 1970’s and 80’s. He had many celebrity clients including Diana Ross, Jackie Onassis and Frank Sinatra to name just a few.  Karl Springer died in 1991 of AIDS related illnesses and his business closed in 1994.


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