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Frank Brothers records, 1929-2005

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Finding aid for the Frank Brothers records, 1929-2005

Scope and Content of Collection

The Frank Brothers records contain material from the Frank Brothers furniture company, an influential, Long Beach, California-based organization, active between 1930 and 1982. With its retail store and related services and with its furniture importing company, Frank Brothers is credited with defining and promoting mid-century modern furniture design on the West Coast. The company provided, marketed, and sold the furnishings for many of the innovative homes featured in Arts and Architecture magazine's Case Study House Program. It also introduced many of Charles and Ray Eames' revolutionary furniture pieces.

Documentation of the Frank Brothers retail store comprises Series I and forms the bulk of the archive. It covers the entire range of operations of the retail aspect of the business. This documentation is primarily visual, including photographs, slides, trade catalogs, scrapbooks and various printed materials. Frank Brothers' committment to design in all its aspects is overwhelmingly evident, in the furnishings they sold, the ways in which they marketed them, and even in the store itself.

The business enjoyed an especially productive and close relationship with a number of designers. Charles and Ray Eames launched many of their new chair designs in the Frank showroom, including the 1968 unveiling of the Eames chaise lounge. The archive includes at least five of Charles Eames' original photographs used for Frank Brothers' print ads and mailings.

Frank Brothers' "integrated interiors" were pioneering for their asymmetrical arrangement of objects and mix of different masses and colors. Well-respected in the industry, Ed Frank would travel to Europe to meet with designers and discover new examples of "West Coast style" contemporary furnishings that were warmer than the austere, Bauhaus machine aesthetic embraced on the East Coast. These interiors are documented in the archive in images by such leading photographers as Marvin Rand, Todd Walker and Julius Shulman.

The forty-year collection of advertisements, mailers and exhibition invitations in the archive reveals the evolution of California modern graphic design. Art Shipman and Steve Madden were the graphic designers behind Frank Brothers' popular print advertisement campaigns and mass mailers announcing upcoming sales, in-store exhibitions, and other special events. All of the marketing copy was written in-house by Ron Frank.

The Frank Brothers store at 2400 Long Beach Boulevard also reflected this commitment to superior design. Edward Killingsworth, the noted Southern California Modern architect, was a close high school friend of Ed Frank and a supporter of the business. In 1963, he redesigned a new north entrance and interior for the store, for which extensive documentation is included in the archive.

Two smaller groups of material round out the archive. Series II contains documentation of Moreddi, the wholesale, import division of the family business, run by Ed Frank, which supplied furnishings for the Frank Brothers store and other retailers. Personal material relating to family members, especially Ed and Ron Frank, comprises Series III. Of particular interest is the documentation of Ed Frank's home, Case Study House #25, designed by Ed Killingsworth.

Arrangement

Arranged in three series:
Series I. Frank Brothers store, 1930-2002;
Series II. Moreddi, 1957-1971;
Series III. Frank family papers, 1929-2005.




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