Josef Frank was fond of the circle. It is seen in many of his designs, both the windows in his architectural works and in mirrors and tables. Coffee table 2139 combines the round shape with Josef Frank’s typical coamings. The three legs are tapering downwards, giving it an airy impression that is enhanced by the top "waist".
It was characteristic of Josef Frank to mix different materials and by making the tabletop in Elm root and the rim and legs in walnut, he wanted to create a vivid look. Coffee table 2139 was designed for Svenskt Tenn in 1952.
During his active years, Josef Frank designed approximately 300 different coffee tables and small tables, of which about 100 were created for his own company, Haus und Garten, and about 200 were designed for Svenskt Tenn. These coffee tables and small tables come in many different sizes, shapes and compositions. Exclusive natural materials like travertine, marble, palisander and alder root, are mixed with beautiful wooden touches like pyramid mahogany, oak and walnut.
Josef Frank advocated clearly accounted for materials for his coffee tables and side tables, and was reluctant to use any others, such as stained wood. On many occasions he used wood veneers, which contribute to the vibrant finish of the coffee tables and side tables, and he happily mixed the material with other wood. Surfaces were lacquered in primary colours of black, white, red, blue, yellow and green – colours that were thought to be timeless, rather than influenced by trends.
At the Eriksson & Sons carpentry outside Nyköping in Sweden, the table top for model “2139” and other types of Josef Frank furniture are made; a procedure that requires great artisanal skill at every stage. They use a root veneer, which, in itself, requires knowledge, since it is obtained by using a lathe to turn millimetre-thin sheets.
Fixing and glueing for a single table can take an entire working day. First you press the veneer sheets at a high temperature to flatten them out. Then begins the time-consuming job of “building up” the veneer: five, six veneer sheets are placed on a plywood board, overlapping one another, and fastened with tiny nails.
It is then sawn in a zigzag manner, which produces a wave pattern in the veneer. This is done to mask the joints, because it is difficult for the eye to perceive a crooked line. Now you have two halves, which you fold, fronts facing each other. And then you “fix” the reverse sides with long paper strips, to hold the veneer together. Eventually, the veneer sheets are pinned to a soft laminate board, and glued onto a board, which, in turn, will be pressed under heat to smooth out the joints.