Josef Frank exhibition: The works of the pioneer of Swedish design on display in Fashion and Textile Museum

Bright colours and bold patterns alongside delicate watercolours – what’s better to fulfil your need for vibrance when it’s grey outside? An exhibition dedicated to inventive designs of Josef Frank, the pioneer of Swedish Modern, opens at the Fashion and Textile Museum tomorrow.

josef frank exhibition textiles

Josef Frank Patterns – Furniture – Painting is the first UK exhibition showcasing the works of the architect and designer Josef Frank. Known for his interior design projects – fabric, wallpaper, and furniture – he was working for Svenskt Tenn alongside an entrepreneur Estrid Ericson, developing some of the most groundbreaking ideas. The exhibition features the abundance of his pattern designs and watercolours that unleash his less known creative outlets.

Known worldwide for his input into Swedish design, Austrian-born architect, grew up in a Jewish family and studied in Vienna. He moved to Sweden in 1933, when Hitler came to power. His fruitful collaboration with Ericson unleashed his creative modernism. They worked together on two thousand furniture sketches, 160 textile prints, and various interior design projects which included glassware and metalwork. His projects, full of colour and nature-inspired patterns, contrasted the dark times of the interwar period and the World War II. His works combine the best of applied art and abstraction, with the butterflies, birds and plants repurposing long-gone art deco for the contemporary user. When many artists opted for minimalism and functionalism, he advocated the nature inspirations as enrichening.

“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,” he claimed.

josef frank exhibition watercolours

Frank firmly believed that to make a space into a home, you need to make it cosy – and yours. He felt that comfort and adaptability should be something an interior designer aims for. His beliefs changed the approach to orthodox, cold functionalism. And he’s proven himself as an architect, too. He co-owned a successful interior design company before he left Austria and designed the first Wekbund Estate in Vienna. Later, in 1951, he designed a home for a sculptor Carl Milles.

Not many people know that he was a painter, too. The display at the FTM will also showcase his previously unseen watercolours. Need inspiration for your next Instagram composition? Learn from the best: in his paintings, he captured still nature and landscapes and cityscapes as a journal of his travels.

 Josef Frank Patterns – Furniture – Painting. The Fashion Textile Museum. Open from 28th of January to 7th of May 2017. Tickets: free for children under 12, student ticket £6, adult ticket £9.90, £7.70 concessions. Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays-Saturdays 11am-6pm with 8pm Thursday closing, Sundays 11am-5pm.

Kasia Kwasniewska

Editor in Chief

Passionate about far too many things. Loves reading, watching films, eyeing (and producing) good design, listening to music and stuffing her face with chocolate on a daily basis. Cooks from time to time, and drinks far too much coffee to be a normal human being. Liked my work? Buy me a coffee!

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