Josef Frank at Fashion and Textile Museum

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If the long cold winter is getting you down, I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see  “Josef Frank: Patterns – Furniture – Painting”. The riotous lushness of his colourful designs will send your spirits soaring.

The exhibition covers his textile designs, furniture and watercolours, including many paintings that have never been seen in public before. But it was his textile designs I found most entrancing, so I focus on those here.

Josef Frank (1885-1967) was born in Austria and trained as an architect. However, he was interested not only in construction but also in interior design, feeling that a home should be a cosy and comfortable haven.

In 1925 he founded the design and furnishings firm Haus & Garten, but in 1933, with anti-Semitism on the rise, he moved to Stockholm with his Swedish wife Anna. For almost 30 years he worked with Estrid Ericson at Svenskt Tenn, producing more than 2000 pieces of furniture and around 200 carpets, wallpapers and textile designs.

Frank was a great admirer of William Morris, as can be seen in his stylised motifs from nature, geometric order and repeat patterns.

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Teheran, 1943-45
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Nippon, 1943-45
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Nippon, 1943-45

 

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Aralia, 1928

There was humour, too, as in this design called “Italian Dinner”, showing aubergines, peas and garlic growing alongside a river stuffed with seafood.

Italian Dinner, 1943-45
Italian Dinner, 1943-45

Some designs zing with colour.

Three Islands in the Black Sea, 1935
Three Islands in the Black Sea, 1935

Others use a pared down palette.

Aristidia, 1925-30
Aristidia, 1925-30
Window, 1943
Window, 1943

Other natural inspirations included birds.

Green Birds in the Trees, 1943-45
Green Birds in the Trees, 1943-45
Anakreon, 1938
Anakreon, 1938

I also liked Rocks and Figs, clearly influenced by Chinese ink paintings of mountains.

Rocks and Figs, 1943-45
Rocks and Figs, 1943-45

In contrast, Terrazzo was inspired by agate rocks embedded in a terrazzo floor.

Terrazzo, 1943-45
Terrazzo, 1943-45

And Manhattan featured maps of New York.

Manhattan, 1943-45
Manhattan, 1943-45

Finally, there was also a complete room showing examples of how the furnishings worked together. So that’s where Ikea got the idea from! 😉

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Josef Frank: Patterns – Furniture – Painting runs at the Fashion and Textile Museum until 7 May.

Svenskt Tenn still sells textiles, wallpaper and furniture designed by Frank – and its website has much better photos than mine!

And here are a couple of felt flowers I made, inspired by the exhibition. 🙂

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