Josef Frank has had an enormous impact on the history of Swedish design. Despite the fact that he was already 50 years old when he fled Nazism for Sweden and Svenskt Tenn, the Austrian architect and designer is considered to be one of Sweden’s most important designers of all time.
Frank’s ideas on harmony also went against the tide. When others advocated monochromatic environments, Frank wrote: “The monochromatic surface appears uneasy, while patterns are calming, and the observer is unwillingly influenced by the slow, calm way it is produced. The richness of decoration cannot be fathomed so quickly, in contrast to the monochromatic surface which doesn’t invite any further interest and therefore one is immediately finished with it.”
Josef Frank began working at Svenskt Tenn in 1934 and just a few years later, the Frank/Ericson duo made their international breakthrough. Svenskt Tenn’s exhibition room at the World Expositions in Paris in 1937 and in New York in 1939 was completely contrary to the ideal of the time with its bold contrasts in materials, colours and patterns. The duo received a great deal of attention and became, somewhat paradoxically, the model for the expression Swedish Modern.
Some of Josef Frank’s design:
1. Armchair 1165 Mahogny. 9600 sek (approx £960) Designed in 1946.
2. Cabinet 522 Textile Mahogany. 78,000 SEK (approx £7800) Josef Frank designed the fabric-clad 522 cabinet in 1934-35 after turning his gaze to Great Britain. Dressing furniture with fabric was part of the British furniture culture and what appealed to Frank was the contrast between the hard wood and the soft fabric.
3. Sofa 3031 5-seated. 48,500 SEK (approx £4850) In accordance with Estrid Ericson’s instructions, this sofa was made in 14 different shades of blue-green linen.
4. Cabinet 881 Wawonaroot. 123 000 sek (approx £12300) The drawing of cabinet 881 that Josef Frank did in 1938 was named “Cabinet With 21 Drawers”, although there were only 19 drawers.
5. Coffee Table 2139 Elmroot. 44 900 sek (approx £4490) Designed by Josef Frank för Svenskt Tenn in 1952
6. Armchair 969 Mahogany. 18 800 sek (approx £1880) In 1939, Josef Frank designed Armchair 969, with inspiration from the dainty armchairs of the 1700s.
7. Desk 1022. 42500 sek (approx £4250) This desk was called the “Schatull” desk or “writing case”.
Oh I would love to have these things, but the prices are crazy…