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Frank Brothers records, 1929-2005

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Finding aid for the Frank Brothers records, 1929-2005

Biographical/Historical Note

The Frank family's path toward redefining interior design in America began with a store named Cash Furniture, located at 219 East 4th Street in Long Beach, California, where Louis Frank sold modestly-priced, old and new furniture and resale appliances. In 1930, he joined forces with his son Maurice and changed the name of the business to L. Frank and Son. It was Louis's younger son Edward, who saw an opportunity to create a niche in the market by shifting exclusively to contemporary furniture sales, and when he joined the organization in 1937, Frank Brothers was born.

Ed was the visionary and creative force of the operation, while Maurice handled the business affairs. The initial years of the company were difficult, as a result of the Great Depression and World War II. As the economy gained strength, however, Frank Brothers' scope of operations rapidly expanded to include furniture sales, the manufacturing of original furniture designs, upholstery, drapery, and on-site, interior design services. In 1947, the store moved to 2400 Long Beach Boulevard. The eighty-foot-wide corner lot featured two hundred feet of large, street-facing display windows. The organization eventually became a full service interiors company with a two-story showroom, warehouse, and factory all under one roof.

In addition to the retail store, Frank Brothers operated a wholesale company named "Moreddi," a combination of Maurice and Ed's names. Moreddi imported furniture from Denmark and other Scandinavian countries, supplying the Frank Brothers store and various retail outlets.

In 1960, Maurice died unexpectedly at the age of 51. His son, Ron Frank, then joined his uncle Ed and further developed the business. Because he was only thirteen years younger than his uncle, most new customers assumed that the two relatives were the original "Frank Brothers." In 1965, the business was split between the two partners. Ed took over the Moreddi import business and Ron led the retail store.

Frank Brothers' critical involvement with Arts and Architecture magazine launched the company into the international design scene. Ed Frank met the magazine's editor, John Entenza, in the 1940s and eventually became a contributing member of the publication. By providing the furnishings for many of the Case Study House Program's innovative homes, including all of the carpet and drapery for the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, California, Frank Brothers became an extremely influential force in shaping the progressive aesthetic of mid-century modern design.

The marketing and promotion of Frank Brothers was exceptional. Their unique and graphically bold advertisements published in Arts and Architecture helped to publicize the clean lines of the avant-garde furniture they sold in their store. Popular print advertisement campaigns and mass mailers announced upcoming sales, in-store exhibitions, and other special events. In order to attract customer traffic to the store in the late 1960s, Ron Frank curated and designed a furniture exhibition series. Topics included plastic, vinyl, and inflatable, "see through" furniture, and Italian designs featuring the work of Carlo Scarpa.

The store diversified the audience for modern furnishings. With the advent of the freeway system, Frank Brothers' strategic and accessible location, midway between Los Angeles and Orange County, allowed the business to cater to a large geographic area. It also appealed to a broad economic range of customers. Frank Brothers sold "good design at every price." The store even sold less expensive copies of many of the contemporary designs they stocked, as well as allowing customers to pay for merchandise with a popular layaway program.

In 1969 Ed sold his ownership of Moreddi and moved to New York, where he served briefly as the company's president. Ron Frank continued to run the Frank Brothers store until 1982, when he sold the business to the Danica furniture company. He retained ownership of the architecturally significant building at 2400 Long Beach Blvd., however, until it was burned to the ground during rioting in 1992.




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