The desk was designed in 1949 and fabricated by the Alexander Woodwork Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1950
From the Catalogue:
Designed by Louis Kahn (1901-1974) in partnership with Anne Tyng (1920-2011), the Morton and Lenore Weiss House (1947-1950) was one of Kahn's first residential projects. Begun in 1947 and completed in 1950, the house was set upon a hill in East Norriton Township, just north of Norristown where Morton "Bubby" Weiss worked as the proprietor of Gilbert's, a prominent haberdashery. Bubby and his wife Lenore were said to have found Louis Kahn an exciting and pleasing partner in the design of their new home, despite his infamous, sometimes prickly demeanor. The Weiss House was awarded a Gold Medal by the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1950. The Weisses were great lovers of architecture and the arts, collecting sculpture, ceramics, prints and textiles on their many travels. They lived in the home up until their deaths in 2004, after which time their collection was bequeathed to museums, family members, and friends.
A large desk, or living room table, was one of three tables Kahn designed for the home, although only two (including the desk) were built. The desk was bequeathed to Bubby's first cousin once-removed, David Wenger and his wife Joan, who have lived with the desk since. The Weiss House and its furnishings are extensively documented by George H. Marcus and William Whitaker in their landmark 2013 publication, The Houses of Louis Kahn (Yale University Press). Their survey notes other furniture purchased for the Weiss House, including Eero Saarinen's Grasshopper Chair and a sofa by Florence Knoll, both designs that were exhibited and seen by Kahn in Marcel Breuer's House in the Museum Garden at the Museum of Modern Art in 1949. Sitting opposite the Knoll sofa was a television stand with an X-shaped base, quite possibility the design inspiration for the legs of the Weiss House desk, although reminiscent of other designs Kahn would have encountered by prominent architect-designers of the period, such as Jean Prouve (1901-1984). Kahn designed built-in and freestanding furniture for several commissions, beginning with the Oser House in 1940 for which he designed and built a free-standing bedroom suite in oak, and later, furniture for the Weiss and Genel houses. None of the furniture from the Genel house is known to have survived.—Courtesy of Freeman's
Freeman's would like to thank William Whitaker and the University of Pennsylvania Architectural Archives for their assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.
George H. Marcus and William Whitaker, The Houses of Louis Kahn, pp. 85-86, 124
Yutaka Saito, Louis I. Kahn Houses 1940-1974, p. 265
Morton (Bubby) and Lenore Weiss, East Norritown Township, Pennsylvania
Thence by descent to Private Collection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
About Louis Kahn
Louis Kahn is known for his contributions to architecture as both a visionary and a professor, having famously designed the Yale University Art Gallery along with countless commissions around the U.S. for museums, libraries, and research institutes. His profession is easily readable in his drawings, which usually feature landscapes with man-made structures as subjects. Kahn was rigorously trained in the Beaux-Arts tradition with an emphasis on traditional drawing. His characteristic aesthetic, however, is defined by loose marks and abstracted representations, influenced in part by Giorgio de Chirico. He developed this style when he traveled through Europe after leaving art school, making sketches as he went sightseeing; many of his artworks are fragments of a lifelong travelogue.
Estonian-American, 1901-1974, Pärnu, Estonia, based in New York, New York