In the 1920s, during the interwar period in Central Europe, Josef Frank was one of modernism’s most prominent figures and pioneers, something that would change in just a matter of years. He became increasingly critical of modern architecture’s monotone expression, which he considered to be both austere and limiting.
When the Austrian architect came to Sweden in 1933, he became successful mainly as a furniture and print designer through the collaboration with Svenskt Tenn’s founder Estrid Ericson.
The exhibition at ArkDes shows the diversity of Frank’s body of work – from ground-breaking architecture to brilliantly-coloured patterns and furniture created for Svenskt Tenn.
Amongst the important works on display in the Josef Frank – Against Design exhibition are pieces of furniture from the first interior he created in 1910 – Karl and Hedwig Tedesko’s apartment in Vienna – and items from Haus & Garten, the furnishing house that Frank ran in Vienna with his colleague Oskar Wlach.
The exhibition also shows the “Fantasy houses” – thirteen fantasy villas that he created for his friend Dagmar Grill. In many ways, the houses came to embody Josef Frank’s vision as an architect. In 1958, they illustrated his thoughts in the magazine Form where, for the first time, he put words to the philosophy that had been developing since his time back in Vienna. He called it “Accidentism” or “Chances philosophy” – the notion that surroundings should be designed as if they simply happened by accident.