The work of Berlin-born designer Karl Springer encapsulates the opulent and colorful disco culture of the 1970s and 1980s, with its exotic finishes, bold proportions, and often flashy palette. At his arrival in New York in late 1950s, Springer found work as a window dresser for Lord & Taylor. Applying his book binding training, he created animal skin-covered jewelry boxes, desk accessories, and telephone tables, which attracted, among others, a buyer at Bergdorf Goodman, launching his design career. Springer’s second shop was located on East 53rd Street, or Boutique Row, which hosted a large population of immigrant craftsmen applying techniques such as batik, lacquer, and leatherwork, relatively unknown in American furniture making. His work certainly borrowed from these influences, as well as 1920s Art Deco style and Greek and Chinoiserie motifs. Springer is perhaps best known for his use of exotic and textured materials and his furniture covered in skins, created in large part by skilled foreigners trained in many different techniques.
Reference: Julie V. Iovine, “Karl Springer,” in Todd Merrill and Julie Iovine, eds., Modern Americana: Studio Furniture from High Craft to High Glam (New York: Rizzoli, 2008), 206-215.