about Josef Frank

JOSEF FRANK (1885 – 1967)

Josef Frank was born in Baden, close to Vienna on July 15, 1885. Frank’s design is different: in the middle of the Bauhaus era, Josef Frank created comfortable spacious and above all colorful pieces of furniture. At the exhibition “Die Wohnung” (the apartment) in Stuttgart in 1927, his colleagues “Mies van der Rohe”  and  “Le Corbusier” simply called his design of a fully furnished semi-detached house “Bordello Frank”. Frank’s understanding of coziness was probably too much for the representatives of the Bauhaus style: frills, floral designs, Persian carpets and comfy pillows simply did not fit into the times of symmetric steel tubes.

Josef Frank studied architecture at the College of Technology in Vienna, and later on, from 1919 to 1925, he worked as a lecturer at the Academy for Arts and Crafts. Frank designed several houses and housing developments in Vienna and on its outskirts, but also one of the semi-detached houses of the famous “Weißenhof development” in Stuttgart. Josef Frank completely rejected Le Corbusier’s idea of „The house is a machine for living in“. For Frank what counted were always the occupants and their psyche.

In the beginning of the 1930s Josef Frank, as a Jew, emigrated from Austria to Sweden. In 1939 Frank additionally received the Swedish citizenship and stayed there until he died in 1967. Josef Frank became the Principal Designer of the Swedish company Svenskt Tenn which is still producing Josef Frank furniture.

„Beauty for everybody“ – the democratization of design – that was Josef Frank’s motto. A motto that is still valid for today’s Scandinavian designs. In the 1930s, during his time at Svenskt Tenn, he produced thousands of drawings of furniture designs and hundreds of floral patterns for wall-papers, carpets and pillows.  

During the maelstrom of war Josef Frank then fled to New York, were he managed to keep his head above water with giving lectures. At that time Josef Frank was very interested in Mexican arts and crafts: Frank was obviously impressed by the bright colors and floral patterns.

Josef Frank died in Stockholm on January 8, 1967.