Josef Frank´s patterns are pure joy, color and celebration. He blends the exuberance of nature and the most surreal fantasies. It’s like a modern cross between William Morris and Hieronymus Bosch. I imagine him painting these joyful and fantastic works in his exile, while the Second World War swept Europe, and it seems to me like an answer to so much tragedy. An Austrian jew and in his late forties, already a famous architect and interior designer, he fled the tense anti-Semitic climate to Sweden, the country of his wife, in 1933. There he started the long and productive collaboration with Svenskt Tenn. This company continues to sell his furniture designs and prints today.
When nazism took Europe in 1941, he went into exile again in New York for 5 years. On his return he continued his collaboration with Svenskt Tenn for 30 years. Today he is considered the founder of the Scandinavian style or «Swedish Modern» that you can see even to this date.
Despite his success, Frank viewed his career as a disappointment. “It is not what I imagined or what I have wanted and would have been able to do, but only what I was able to achieve under the circumstances,» he wrote in 1948, in a letter to a friend. «When I look back I feel very sad.»
I think that he would rather have preferred to be an architect of social housing that revolutionized how people lived. Well, it would be enough for me to be a pattern designer almost as good as he was. But we all do what we can under the circumstances.
I hope you enjoy his work as much as I do.