Dining table by Paul Kafka

Made in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c 1955.

Paul Kafka is one of the most significant furniture makers to have worked in Sydney in the immediate post-war period. Born in Vienna in 1907, the son of a Viennese furniture maker, he worked in his father’s factory and later studied furniture design and interior decoration at the Academy of Arts in Vienna. In 1939 Kafka and his wife emigrated to Australia and established a furniture making factory, first in Elizabeth Street, Sydney and by the late 1940s larger premises in Botany Road, Waterloo. ...

Summary

2004/151/1
Dining table, extension, wood / glass, Paul Kafka, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1955

Table, extension, wood/glass, Paul Kafka, Sydney, about 1955. Extension table of zebrawood veneers on a [coachwood] carcase, the rectangular, grey-tinted mirror glass top with a blackwood edge and two retractable leaves on slides beneath; the four veneered, square tapered legs each terminating in a brass stud.

Production

The table was designed by Kafka's company but may not have been the design solely of Kafka himself. According to former Kafka employees (Neil Sear, George Surtees) his main designer and draftsman during the 1950s was Allons(?) Worms (now deceased). Given Kafka's background it seems likely he would have collaborated closely at the initial design level, with Worms resolving detail and completing the final design drawings.

Manufacture of the table is attributed to Kafka's company on the basis of its style, materials and construction as well as the verbal evidence of Tyrone Dearing (Sydney dealer), the vendor to the current donor, who recalls purchasing it in the early 1990s from a house in Bellevue Hill with other examples of Kafka furniture in it. Much, but not all, Kafka furniture bears the company's metal label.

According to Neil Sear, a former employee, Kafka employed skilled craftsmen, (including a number of Italians) and was fastidious about quality workmanship and finishing. The workshop was organised along traditional lines with individual furniture makers responsible for work from start to finish, as opposed to the 'production line' methods used by many furniture companies at the time. Polishing was completed by a skilled frenchpolisher.

Dated to about 1955 on the basis of its stylistic relationship to other work by Kafka and in the knowledge that the bulk of Kafka's domestic furniture was produced between the late 1940s and early 1960s.
c 1955

Source

Donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program by Keith Beard and Brian John Shaw, 2004
18 November, 2004

Cite this Object

Dining table by Paul Kafka 2016, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 22 September 2017, <https://ma.as/319606>
{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/319606 |title=Dining table by Paul Kafka |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=22 September 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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