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Friday, October 3, 2014

Josef Frank

Josef Frank (1885-1967) was an architect, designer and theorist who is considered by many to be the founder of Swedish (or Scandinavian) Modern design. The style is sometimes called "Alternative Modernism" today. He defied the austere aesthetics defined by Walter Gropius and his followers at the Bauhaus, as well as those of designers such as Marcel Breuer and Le Corbusier.

While the rest of the modernist movement favored monochromatic interiors and severe lines, Frank advocated pattern, bright colors, and curves. He did not reject traditional influences, because he thought they made people comfortable, and, in fact, his textiles were strongly influenced by William Morris, an English textile designer of the 1800s,

According to Christopher Long, professor of Architectural History at the School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin and author of Joseph Frank: Life and Work, "When Frank began to work for Svenskt Tenn in the early 1930s, he introduced the idea of a humane, mitigated modernism." While many advocated a unified modernist concept, he favored a pluralistic approach, saying that uniformity and standardized design might make everyone too similar.

Frank was born in Austria and studied architecture in Vienna at the University of Technology and taught at the Vienna School of Arts from 1919-1925. In 1933, he left Vienna to escape Nazism and gained Swedish citizenship in 1939.

Frank created sofas, tables, cabinets, lamps, and accessories. His specialty, however, was in textiles. Over his lifetime, he produced almost 2500 designs, of which only about half were ever made and only about 100 were made in large quantities.

From, and

Textile design Manhattan


Display case

Liljevalch chair



Frank exhibition - Swedish American Museum, Chicago


  1. Replies
    1. His textiles have a timeless feel to me. They look as if a young designer could have created them today. I especially like the abstract and the green eucalyptus-like floral.