London last Thursday afternoon was cold, rainy and miserable. That was until I stepped inside the Fashion and Textile Museum to see the Josef Frank exhibition and was greeted with a burst of colourful patterns.
Josef Frank was born in Austria in 1885. Frank originally trained as an architect, but after emigrating to Sweden in 1933 and joining the design firm Svenskt Tenn (Swedish Pewter) he mostly designed furniture and textiles.
Josef Frank mainly drew inspiration from nature, creating bold and graphic designs of flowers, leaves and birds. The Italian Dinner print (below) is a clever example of this, as Frank incorporated Italian fruits and vegetables like aubergine, garlic, olives and grapes with seafood such as lobster and squid. Frank was also inspired by British designer William Morris who created textile designs inspired by nature. Morris’ influence on Frank’s designs are clear however Frank puts more of a quirky spin in his own work.
The Fashion and Textile Museum have splendidly showcased Frank’s finest designs. One of the first displays is a living room consisting of Josef Frank furniture and textiles. Upon seeing this I had some serious interior design envy. It would have been good if the museum had included more displays like this or photographs of homes furnished with his designs, so that we could see how his designs were used and have an understanding of who is customer was. However sofas, chaise lounges and armchairs upholstered in his fabric were dotted around for visitors to sit on which was a good idea as they were super comfy!
The exhibition features many large samples of fabrics and it was a unique opportunity to get up close with them. Frank’s initial drawings and woodcut blocks were also featured giving an interesting insight into the production process.
His choice of colours and use of form are so vibrant you would be forgiven for not realising that these textiles designs were made during the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s.
Frank created his last textile design ‘Himalaya’ in 1950 and then went on to paint watercolours, which were not intended for commercial use. Upstairs in the museum, a selection of his paintings are displayed. These paintings are very different from his repeat patterns but they do show his passion for nature and architecture as well his love of colour.
If you’re interested in printed textiles, colour and mid-century modern design then the Josef Frank exhibition is definitely worth visiting. Although you will have to hurry as the exhibition closes on 9th May 2017.
To find more information and book tickets go here:
You can look or buy Josef Frank’s work at Svenskt Tenn here: