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'Mirakel' (Miracle) is one of Josef Frank's earliest prints, created during the latter half of the 1920s. It is adorned with large-scale fantasy flowers, winding lianas and a sea of dots. Josef Frank himself allegedly said that it feels like a miracle that such a small repeat could give rise to something so magnificent. For the holiday season 2021, the print is launched in a new, dark brown colourway.
'Mirakel' in a pattern collection from Haus & Garten.
After the end of the First World War and throughout the 1920s, Josef Frank composes several prints, strongly influenced by the pattern innovator William Morris. In 1925, he establishes the interior design company Haus und Garten together with his architect colleagues Oskar Wlach and Walther Sobotka, which proved a success both artistically and commercially. In his pattern designs during this period, Josef Frank is influenced by a variety of oriental, English and French cretons, and he pays particular attention to Morris' words:
“Don’t copy any style at all, but make your own. Yet you must study the history of your art or you will be taught by bad copyists of it that you come across…”
'Mirakel' Dark Brown, Josef Frank, 1920-talet
'Cray', William Morris, 1884
Mirakel is one of the prints created during this time, and it is also one of those most inspired by William Morris' pattern composition. The fantasy flowers give Mirakel an oriental expression and the limes are framed by winding lianas, blue shimmering vines and a cavalcade of small dots scattered all over the print. Despite many similarities with William Morris, a major difference is that Mirakel is characterised by its liveliness and vitality rather than the quiet wonder that is often evoked by Morris' designs.
The textile's repeat - From Josef Frank's Textile Designs by Kristina Wängberg-Eriksson
“Mirakel’s pattern surface is composed primarily of standing rectangles, about twice as high as they are wide. The content of each such rectangle is in turn symmetrical. By rotating half a turn, you make the lower part coincide with the upper. This means that the repeat, the smallest part by which a repetition forms the whole pattern, is the size of half a rectangle.”
Tissus d’Avesnières mill in Laval, France.
Josef Frank’s prints are screen printed, a printing technique in which a fill blade is moved across a screen stencil, forcing ink or dye through the mesh openings. But before you reach this stage you have to produce the stencils.
The first step is to scan the original pattern into a computer and separate the colours. In a multistage process, the pattern is then transferred onto a stencil. Each colour requires a separate stencil. For example, Josef Frank’s pattern ‘Mirakel’ is printed with five different colours, and because each colour of the pattern has to have two stencils, a total of 10 stencils have to be made.
Ready mixed dyes ready for printing.
The printing table upon which Svenskt Tenn’s fabrics are printed is 60 metres long. Here one colour is printed at a time so that the dye has time to dry before the rest of the colours are filled in. Nowadays a robot takes care of the hard work of moving the heavy frame, but nevertheless, two people are required, one on each side of the frame, to pour in dye and to control the process.
When the printing is finished, it is time to fixate the dyes under heat. The surplus dye must be rinsed off and the fabric has to be re-stretched. Before the fabric is ready for delivery, it is inspected manually.