Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Frank Brothers records
Date (inclusive): 1929-2015
26.15 Linear Feet
(28 boxes, 8 flatfile folders)
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
Business Number: (310) 440-7390
Fax Number: (310) 440-7780
The Frank Brothers records contain
material from the Frank Brothers furniture company, an influential, Long Beach,
California-based organization, active between 1930 and 1982, credited with defining and
promoting mid-century modern furniture design on the West Coast.
Request access to the physical materials
described in this inventory through the
for this collection. Click here for the
Language: Collection material is in
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
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
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
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.
Open for use by qualified researchers.
Frank Brothers records, 1929-2015, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession
Gift of Ron Frank in 2009. 2022 additions: Gift of Marni Good.
Antonio Beecroft processed the collection in 2010 and made a complete inventory under the
supervision of Ann Harrison, who also devised the arrangement and adapted the descriptive
notes from curatorial reports.
Six boxes of additional materials were received in 2022 from Marni Good, daughter of Ron
and Nancy Frank, and integrated into the finding aid by Kit Messick.
The finding aid was reviewed by members of the Anti-Racist Description Working Group in
2022 and no revisions were made.
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
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
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
Additional materials received in 2022 largely relate to Ron Frank's class on contemporary
furniture taught at Long Beach Community College between 1985-2007, but also include small
quantities of personal and professional correspondence; and small quantities of additional
material relating to Frank Brothers and the Frank family.
Arranged in three series: Series I. Frank Brothers store, 1930-2002; Series II. Moreddi,
1957-1971; Series III. Frank family papers, 1929-2015.
Subjects - Names
Killingsworth, Edward A.,
Subjects - Topics
Interior decoration -- California -- 20th century
Graphic arts -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
Advertising layout and typography -- United States -- 20th
Furniture design -- Exhibitions
Furniture -- California -- 20th century
Architecture, Modern -- 20th century -- California, Southern
Modern movement (Architecture) -- California
Genres and Forms of Material
Photographic prints -- 20th century
Gelatin silver prints -- United States -- 20th century