Like almost all the modernists in Los Angeles in the 1920s, Kem Weber was a transplant to the city. He was born Karl Emanuel Martin Weber (in his twenties, he began using his initials as his first name) in Berlin in 1889. After serving as an apprentice cabinetmaker in his teens, he studied architecture and interior design with Bruno Paul at the School of Applied Arts (Kunstgewerbeschule) in Berlin and later worked in Paul’s architectural office.
In the early summer of 1914, he traveled to San Francisco to supervise the building of the German Pavilion for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, but when the war erupted in Europe in August, he found himself stranded in the United States. Seeing greater opportunity in the New World, Weber stayed in the United States after the war ended, later becoming a U. S. citizen in 1924.