Artists & Designers

Karl Emmanuel Martin (Kem) Weber (American, 1889-1963)

Kem Weber (1889-1963) was one of the leading designers working in America during the 1920s and 1930s. Born in Berlin, Weber studied with Bruno Paul, the director of the Academy of Applied Arts before traveling to California to supervise construction of the German pavilion at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. With the outbreak of World War I, Weber was unable to return to Europe and quickly decided to settle in California. In 1921, he joined the staff of Barker Brothers, a Los Angeles-based interior design firm, where his inclination toward modern design increased following a visit to the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. In 1927, Weber established his own design firm in Hollywood, where he would rise to prominence following his success in a series of exhibitions including R.H. Macy and Company’s Six in Three Rooms of 1928. Weber’s subsequent efforts included modernist interiors for several clients including the Sommer & Kaufman shoe store in San Francisco (1929), silver cocktail articles for Friedman Silver Company (1928), movie sets for Paramount, metal furniture for Lloyd Manufacturing, and a series of designs for homes of plywood.

Drawn from

  • Kevin W. Tucker, The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, DMA Acquisition Justification (2006.42), 2006
  • Kem Weber: The Moderne in Southern California, 1920-1941. Santa Barbara: University of California, 1969. Published in conjunction with the exhibition "Kem Weber: The Moderne in Southern California, 1920-1941" shown at The Art Galleries, University of California, Santa Barbara, organized by David Gebhard and Harriette von Breton.
  • David A. Hanks and Anne Hoy, American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow. Paris: Flammarion, 2005

Fun Facts

In the late-1930s, Walt Disney commissioned Kem Weber to design the exterior and interior furnishings, including this "Airline" chair, for his new state-of the art animation studio in Burbank, California.

Web Resources

PBS American Experience
Read more about Industrial Designers and Streamliners

Kem Weber
Learn more about furniture and industrial designer Kem Weber