Josef Frank's (1885–1967) work can only be described as joyous. Born in Austria, he rose to prominence designing textiles in the thirties. The Fashion and Textile Museum are bringing his work to the UK in a solo exhibition, and it's sure to put a spring in your step.
Frank fled Austria and its rising Nazism with his wife in 1933, and brought Viennese luxury to the Nordic market by moving to Stokholm and eventually finding a job with a Swedish interiors company. Trying to make his break when the city had a broadly utilitarian design output was difficult. But his eventual success, and his bright and beautiful vision, challenged designers to rethink Swedish Modern.
Where we have Liberty lawn cotton and William Morris's 'Strawberry Thief' pattern, Sweden has Frank's bright, flowery colourscapes. Over 160 of his loose, free designs were created for the textiles company Svenskt Tenn. Working with Estrid Ericson, the founder, he contributed glassware, lighting and furniture, alongside his fabrics.
When we think of Scandi design we often think in terms of simplicity and minimalism. A swathe of designers brought this into our homes in 2016. Our houses were awash with grey. News of Frank's upcoming exhibition, the first of its kind in the UK, is a breath of fresh air, like Technicolor after black and white.
The natural world bleeds into Frank's interiors: from insects to birds, flowers and leaves. Even his iconic Manhattan map looks like a biological cell.
The Fashion and Textiles exhibition will showcase his work for the Swedish company. Fans of Marimekko homeware will love it. The Finnish brand's ability to create cult prints season after season owes a debt to Frank.
Our favourite textiles include Dixieland, a fabric that is reflective of the Surrealist movement and the American South, as well as Himalaya, Frank's final textile. Also, be sure to check out some of the designer's previously unknown modernist-style watercolour paintings.
If you want more events cut from the same cloth, head to the Southbank Centre, where their festival of Nordic matters takes place all year in 2017.
The Fashion and Textile Museum is closed on Mondays
|What||Patterns–Furniture–Painting, Josef Frank review|
|Where||Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey St, London, SE1 3XF | MAP|
|Nearest tube||London Bridge (underground)|
28 Jan 17 – 07 May 17, Closed Mondays, Late opening Thursday (8pm)
|Price||£6 - 9.90|
|Website||Click here to book via the Fashion & Textile Museum|