Max Gottschalk may not be a name many people would be familiar with. But Max Gottschalk was a mid-century modern interior designer and his work was hugely influential to many people. Max Gottschalk was best known for his work with leather and industrial materials like steel and aluminium to create modernist pieces of furniture which still had a traditional feel to them.
Born in 1909 in St Louis, Missouri, Max Gottschalk started his career in design in the late 1930’s, after graduating from Washington University he moved to the colony of Newfoundland where he was appointed Chief Technical Advisor of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Reconstruction. Here Max Gottschalk was assigned the job of designing furniture for a workshop in the agricultural community of Markland. His worked proved to be successful, with most of his designs using modernist principles with natural materials.
Unfortunately with the onset of World War Two the position became obsolete due to the Government abandoning its economic reconstruction programs. So Max Gottschalk moved back to the US, settling in Tucson, Arizona. Here he became a professor of industrial design at Pima Community College’s new Modern West Campus. During his time there Max Gottschalk also enjoyed one of his other interests, oil painting as well as his design work. In fact Gottschalk most productive period was from around the 1950’s all the way to his death in 2005.
Throughout his career however his style was consistent, working with what he knew, much of his work had a raw edge to it and he always liked to combine “natural” materials with industrial materials, often using leather with aluminum tubing, steel and other modern components. Max Gottschalk also liked to use materials which were less than perfect, such as leather which had imperfections that came through when it was stained or tanned, to give his work a more individual feel. Pieces of his furniture do come up to buy, normally at auction or at specialist retailers and his work will feature his distinctive logo.