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The Austrian refugee who produced world-famous design

Published torsdag 16 mars kl 17.19
"He's mostly known for his printed patterns"
(4:32 min)
Karin Årberg Waern, the head of exhibitions at ArkDes, in front of a brightly-colored, floral original watercolor sketch by Josef Frank.
Karin Årberg Waern, the head of exhibitions at ArkDes, in front of her favorite Josef Frank print. Credit: Spenser Bomholt/SR

ArkDes, Sweden's national center for architecture and design, just opened the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to Josef Frank.

World-renowned modernist Josef Frank produced an extensive and diverse body of work ranging from city planning to textile print design.

Karin Åberg Waern, head of exhibitions at ArkDes, gave Radio Sweden's reporter a guided tour of the Josef Frank exhibition at ArkDes called Against Design.

In Vienna, he's mostly known as an architect and a city planner. Here in Sweden, he's known as a designer of furniture and fabrics. So we had to work with the balance, to show the whole scope of his career."

Josef Frank was born in Austria in 1885 and had a successful career there. But as anti-Semitism was on the rise in the 1930s, he and his Swedish wife felt as if they had no choice but to move to Sweden.

As Europe became consumed by WWII, Frank and his wife moved to New York and stayed until after the war had ended. When they returned to Stockholm, he started working for the legendary design house, Svenskt Tenn, and did so until his death in 1967.

The Josef Frank "Against Design" exhibition continues at Stockholm’s Architecture and Design Centre through August 27.

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