Eugene Schoen (1880 – 1957) was an American architect and designer. He was born and professionally active in New York. He was one of the few American born designers during the 20s and 30s to achieve success.

Education

He studied architecture, Columbia University, New York, to 1901; Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna, under Otto Wagner and others. In Vienna, he met Secessionist architects Otto Wagner and Josef Hoffman, who was also the founder of the Wiener Werkstätte.

Biography

He set up his architecture practice in New York in 1905 and, after visiting the 1925 Paris ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes.‘ He began offering interior design services. In 1931, he became a professor of interior architecture at New York University. He sold his own and imported textiles and furniture and Maurice Heaton’s glassware in the gallery he established.

For several interior schemes, he commissioned Heaton to execute large glass murals, the most impressive The Flight of Amelia Earhart Across the Atlantic in the 1932 interior of RKO Theatre in Rockefeller Center, New York, of which Schoen was the interior designer.

He designed the interiors of numerous apartments, banks, theatres, and department stores in Manhattan and elsewhere, including Dunhill’s interior at Rockefeller Center and Dunhill’s earlier store. His furniture was rendered in neoclassical forms with exotic wood veneers in an odd amalgamation of various contemporary European styles. Some of his furniture, such as the Chinese-influenced pieces for the apartment of lawyer Henry Root Stem in New York, was produced by Schmieg, Hungate, and Kotzian. From the late 1920s, his son Lee was a member of the practice.  

Rare Pull-up Chair by Eugene Schoen United States c. 1934

Style

Perhaps because his clientele was partial to luxurious French styles, Schoen did not draw upon his urban surroundings for inspiration. Instead, he looked to French furniture designers whose beautiful veneered furniture and costly, inlaid materials exemplified the Art Moderne style.

Eugene Schoen circa 1929 Monel metal, bronze, Bakelite, steel. 22 in. (55.9 cm) high, 25 1/2 in. (64.8 cm) diameter

By the late 20s when modernism made its forays into the modern American home, Schoen was perfectly placed to capitalise on it. He was even able to display complete room settings in his gallery in 1928 when most of his colleagues were competing for space in department store exhibitions 

Schoen’s table in the ladies’ powder room in the RKO Roxy Theatre, circa 1932. Photograph by Fay S. Lincoln.

Exhibitions

He designed a room setting at the 1928 ‘Exposition of Art in Industry at Macy’s’ at Macy’s department store in New York. Schoen’s included his show window, child’s nursery, and bedroom in the 1929 (XI) ‘The Architect and the Industrial Arts: An Exhibition of Contemporary American Design’ at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. His dining room was included in the Central Gallery of the 1935 ‘Contemporary American Industrial Art, 1934 at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. He designed an exhibition at New York State Building, 1933-34 Chicago Century of Progress He received a gold medal for crafts from Architectural League of New York for a building, entrance.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Eugene Schoen (1880 – c.1957) – Genealogy. https://www.geni.com/people/Eugene-Schoen/6000000002188115553

Art Institute of Chicago. (2001). Shaping the modern: American decorative arts at The Art Institute of Chicago 1917-65.

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