Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Obituaries : W. C. Pahlmann; Innovator in Home Design

November 12, 1987

William C. Pahlmann, credited with being the first interior decorator to provide model rooms of furniture for department stores, with introducing Hollywood beds and double dressers and for featuring the blond Scandinavian furniture that proved popular in the 1940s, has died at his retirement home in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Pahlmann, whose design credits include the plush modern interiors of the Four Seasons restaurant in New York, said to be the world's most expensive when it opened in 1959, was 86 when he died last Friday.

A native of Illinois who was raised in San Antonio, Pahlmann was a salesman for a plumbing company who had shown an early interest in drawing. To occupy himself while he was traveling, he enrolled in an art correspondence course. In 1927, he moved to New York where he studied at the Parsons School of Design. He later studied at the Parsons school in Paris.

An Early Customer

He opened his first shop in New York in 1931, and one of his early customers was Dorothy Paley, first wife of William S. Paley of CBS. Pahlmann's designs--one of which featured the yokes of oxen as headboards for beds--so intrigued her that she sent her friends in and he became successful.

In 1936, as head of the decorating division of Lord & Taylor, Pahlmann created a series of model rooms filled with both French antiques and the modern, often outrageous pieces that became his trademark. It was there that he was believed to have created the concept of grouping paintings and prints on a single wall rather than hanging them individually as had been common practice.

He lived on a 16-acre estate in Westchester County which became a showcase of interior design before retiring in 1985 to live in San Antonio and Guadalajara.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|