United States Industrial designer born in Hamburg, Germany who immigrated with his parents to Chicago in 1923. His father was an architect. He finished high school in 1928 and attended Washburn Trade School in Chicago, studying mechanical engineering drafting. In 1930-1931, he served as a traditional apprentice learning furniture design in Europe, and returned to Grand Rapids, Michigan, then the center of furniture design in the U.S., working for Earle Irwin Macey Company, manufacturer of office furniture, and also attending Davenport Business College in Grand Rapids. He designed executive furniture for the Rochester, New York headquarters of Eastman Kodak.
Al left Grand Rapids to move to New York, working for the Progressive Table Company designing dinette furniture. The company moved him to North Carolina, where his father joined him to design furniture for Thomasville and other furniture companies. In 1935 he returned to Chicago and worked for Merton Gershun, a furniture designer in the Chicago Furniture Mart, and from 1935 to 1940 worked for Tell City Furniture Company in Tell City, Indiana, where he designed radio and phonograph cabinets for Zenith, Clinton, Traveler, and Emerson. “On loan” to Zenith, he designed most of its cabinets during that period.
In 1938 he became one of the first members of the American Designers Institute (ADI), which merged with other design organizations to become IDSA in 1965, and continued his membership until his demise, achieving the distinction of probably the longest membership of organized design, a total of 70 years. From 1940 to 1948, he was staff designer for Admiral in Chicago, and patented a number of its cabinets 1944-1945. During World War II In 1949 he left Chicago due to seasonal allergies and moved to California, where he worked as supervisor of the cabinet division of Hoffman Television. He them became a free-lance and staff designer, plant manager at Pacific Mercury, the West Coast supplier of TV cabinets for Sears, Roebuck & Company. There, he designed electric organs, which created a new home entertainment category.
As a free-lance designer, he designed lamps and chandeliers for Lighting Accessories, Inc. of Glendale; occasional tables for Mission Furniture Manufacturing in Los Angeles; worked nine years as a designer for Brown-Saltman Furniture Manufacturing designing bedroom and dining furniture; Hollywood Furniture Company; Richards Manufacturing Company (1967-1968); Radio cabinets for Capehart Corporation; interior furnishings for Pac-Aero Engineering Company and Blue Boy Yacht Corporation. He also became Secretary-Treasurer of IDSA’s Los Angeles Chapter, and a Life member of IDSA, as well as teaching at the Art Center College of Design.
Al worked for Bill Gallien Associates until his retirement at age 70 in 1982, when he carved replicas of famous ships for his collection of maritime history. He donated his professional materials, consisting of 1,000 drawings of furniture and lighting fixtures, to industrial design collections at the Hagley Library in Wilmington, Delaware and to Syracuse University Library.