Kem Weber and the rise of modern design in Southern California

I would like to thank Kathryn Kanjo of the University Art Museum and Alexander Hauschild of the Architecture and Design Collection at the University of California, Santa Barbara; and Kurt Helfrich at the Drawings and Archives, Royal Institute of British Architects, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, for kindly assisting me with assembling information and photographs for this article. A generous grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago, helped to support this research.

1 “Modern Furniture from Los Angeles: Barker Bros. Feature Kem Weber’s Designs,” Good Furniture Magazine, vol. 29 (November 1927), p. 233. 

2 The company’s other stores were in Hollywood, Long Beach, San Diego, and Houston. See Furnishing for Public Service (Barker Brothers, Los Angeles, 1929), p. 59.

3 See Kem Weber, “Why Should the American Furniture Buyer, Manufacturer and Designer Go to Europe?,” Good Furniture Magazine, vol. 25 (November 1925), p. 261. 

4 “Modern Furniture from Los Angeles: Barker Bros. Feature Kem Weber’s Designs,” pp. 233–234. 

5 Ibid., p. 234. 

6 “New Construction Features in Kem Weber Furniture,” Retailing, Home Furnishings Edition, April 4, 1931, p. 1. 

7 “Airline Chair of Wood by Kem Weber,” Architectural Record, vol. 77 (May 1935), p. 311. 

8 “Wrap it Up and Take It Home!,” Retailing, Home Furnishings Edition, May 13, 1935, p. 12. 

9 Ibid. 

10 Lloyd Chromium Furniture, company sale catalogue (Menominee, Michigan, 1938). 

11 Quoted in Carlton Cady, “Kem Weber Tells What He’s After in Modern Furniture,” Grand Rapids Herald, July 3, 1936. 

12 Ibid. 

13 Kurt Helfrich in Designing the Moderne: Kem Weber’s Bixby House (University Art Museum, Santa Barbara, Calif., 2000), n.p.

CHRISTOPHER LONG, associate professor for architectural history and theory in the School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin, is working on a biography of Kem Weber.

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by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton

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