"Swedish Modern"

[JOHANSSON, Gotthard]

Josef Frank. Tjugo ar i Svenskt Tenn. Nationalmuseum, 21 mars – 20 april 1952. (Nationalmusei utställningskatalog nr 188)

(Stockholm, Nordisk Rotogravyr, 1952).

Large 8vo, publisher’s boards covered with an original Frank wallpaper [“Eldblomman”, in a green colourway], gold paper label mounted on the first side. 13 pp., (3) pp., Swedish text, 24 recto-verso black and white photographic plates with 51 images of Frank’s furniture, textiles, and interior designs. Introductory essay [by the Swedish writer and art critic Gotthard Johansson, 1891-1968]. Complete.

First edition.

A bookplate from Svenskt Tenn is pasted to the verso of the front board. It was signed and dated by the designer on 21 March 1952, the exhibition’s opening day.

Important catalogue of an exhibition celebrating twenty years of Josef Frank’s work with Svenskt Tenn.

Josef Frank (1885-1967), Austrian-born designer and architect and much-celebrated pioneer of the “Swedish Modern” style. Frank moved to Stockholm with his Swedish wife in 1933 to escape growing Nazi discrimination. A committed socialist, he had a successful practice in Vienna, “Haus & Garten”, where he designed houses, interiors, furniture, and fabrics. Svenskt Tenn’s founder, Estrid Ericson, had created her brand in 1924, focusing on pewter pieces (“tenn” means pewter), but by the early 1930s, her interest had shifted to interiors. Impressed by Frank’s work, Ericson asked him to design products for her store. Frank emerged as the principal designer at Svenskt Tenn, beginning a fruitful relationship that would last more than three decades. His first pieces were opulent and glamorous, using luxurious materials such as brass and velvet and introducing patterns.

He emphasised comfort and informality, producing fanciful designs inspired by nature with lavish, bright, bold colours and floral patterns to add warmth and personality. Back then, this was a radical idea. He always put people at the centre of his designs. His work quickly gained popularity. After the German occupation of Denmark and Norway in 1940, Josef and his wife Anna temporarily moved from Sweden to New York City. While living in Manhattan, Frank created his most innovative and substantial set of textile designs over the course of two years (1943-44). Since they were first printed, Frank’s New York designs have formed the core of Svenskt Tenn’s textile offerings. In 1946, Frank returned to Sweden and continued his collaboration with Svenskt Tenn until he died in 1967. In addition to textiles and wallpapers, the artist designed chairs, sofas, lamps, bowls, vases, trays, tables, stools and cabinets.

A very good copy.