Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
Josef Frank (1885-1967)
The first exhibition dedicated to the work of Josef Frank is about to open at the Fashion and Textile Museum. Internationally renowned and influential, Frank is best known for his amazingly bright, bold fabric and wallpapers and his distinctive furniture designs. These iconic designs will be seen alongside previously unknown watercolour paintings.
The Austrian-born architect moved to Sweden in 1933 in the year that Adolf Hitler came to power and the rise on anti Semitism in his home nation. As a partner in a successful interior design firm in Vienna, he designed both houses, interiors and furniture as well as fabric patterns before moving to Sweden.
Despite prejudice at that time in Sweden his colourful brand of modernism caught the interest of the Swedish designer and entrepreneur Estrid Ericson of Svenskt Tenn.
Estrid Ericson begun her very successful business in Stockholm in 1924. Her partnership with Josef developed into a lifelong creative partnership despite him moving to New York for the duration of the war. During his stay he continued to design and sent Estrid 50 designs for her 50th birthday. In 1946 he returned and continued his collaboration with Svenskt Tenn until his death. The duo’s technical skills and artistic vision still influence the company’s styling today where the new blends harmoniously with the original designs.
In his textile patterns, Josef Frank creates worlds that stand in stark contrast to the reality of the interwar period and World War II. He has the ability to create complete visual worlds inspired by nature with designs that are dominated by beautifully coloured birds, butterflies, plants and floral shapes. Frank’s patterns are filled with an optimistic energy, even where highly abstracted and suggest the abundance of the world and human possibilities, a world of dreams where species intertwine and differing types of flowers grow side by side.
His watercolours are also being shown in the exhibition many that are equally accomplished and often document his travels.