Albert Frey: The International

While most know him as a Palm Springs Modernist architect, Albert Frey’s (1903-1998) career spans the western hemisphere and most of the 20th century. In the late 1920s, Frey worked for the Modern architecture master Le Corbusier designing buildings in Paris. Before moving from his native Switzerland to America in 1930, he worked in Brussels as the chief designer at the offices of Jean-Jules Eggericx and Raphael Verwilghen where he worked on the urban planning and design for two cities in Zaire. Fascinated by America and eager to evolve his modern technological aesthetic, he arrived in New York and immediately began working with architect A. Lawrence Kocher. One of their first projects was the Aluminaire, a full-scale house constructed of prefabricated materials first exhibited at the Grand Central Palace in New York in 1931 to “demonstrate the possibilities of affordable housing achieved through modern technology.”

During the 1930s, Kocher and Frey’s partnership proved to be one of the most influential of the decade due to their frequent articles in Architectural Record exploring low-cost, yet functional single-family housing. As a result of economic conditions, the work was sparse for the pair and in 1934, Frey designed modern flat-roofed houses for the United States Department of Agriculture on its Farm Housing Project. In 1940, after achieving success with the Kocher-Samson Building and numerous residential constructions in Palm Springs, he designed and built the Frey House I, one of his most celebrated commissions and “the first house to exhibit his new interest in horizontal wall planes extending into the landscape.” This side chair and plywood bedroom storage unit are two pieces of furniture designed by Frey that add to the futuristic atmosphere of the Frey House I.

Paul DesMarais, Contributing Writer

Lot Information

Lot 2
Albert Frey
Custom designed 1940-47 for “Frey House I”
24.75”h x 42.25”w x 30”d
Provenance:  Albert Frey, Elsie Wolf, Private Collection

Lot 3
Albert Frey
Side Chair
Custom designed 1940-47 for “Frey House I”
26”h x 26”w x 32”d
Provenance:  Albert Frey, Elsie Wolf, Private Collection

Rosa, Joseph. Albert Frey, Architect. New York: Rizzoli, 1990. Print.


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