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early 1930s, he continued to investigate the possibilities of his colorful and comfortable aesthetic.

Frank’s interiors of the early 1930s for Haus & Garten directly presage the imagery of Swedish Modern. A sitting corner he designed not long before he left Austria evinces all the basic features of his mature idiom: simple, low-slung furnishings with softened edges, an emphasis on ease and physical solace and bright and boldly patterned textiles.

The rise of the Nazis in Germany and growing anti-Semitism in Austria (as well as the threat of a German takeover) prompted Frank’s move to Stockholm. Sweden was a logical place of refuge for him; his wife Anna was Swedish, and they often spent the summer months there. More important for his decision, however, was an offer from Estrid Ericson, the owner of Svenskt Tenn, to redesign the interiors of her shop.

Ericson had founded Svenskt Tenn in 1924. The shop originally featured pewter articles (its name means Swedish pewter), but by the beginning of the 1930s she had branched out to include furniture and other accessories. Hoping to broaden the store’s offerings, she wrote to Frank, whose work she had long admired, and asked him to contribute some designs. After Frank arrived in Stockholm, she was so taken with his work that she hired him to become Svenskt Tenn’s chief designer. Over the next 25 years, Frank would design literally thousands of articles for the company, producing, on average, one new design per week.

Though his basic design philosophy remained unchanged, Frank’s work in Sweden underwent a subtle but discernible transformation. With Ericson’s encouragement, he began to put greater stress on finish and elegance. He also introduced elements of Swedish folk art and other historic traditions. His color palette of deep rich reds, blues and greens grew brighter — a response to Scandinavia’s dark, dreary winters — and more insistent.

Several exhibitions Frank mounted shortly after his arrival caused an immediate stir in Swedish design circles. Most of the Swedish design vanguard up to that time had followed German and Dutch trends, but Frank’s sensitive melding of Swedish patterns and forms — simple geometric ornament and light wooden design of birch and pine — with his subdued modernism struck many as an ideal alternative to the more radical language of German functionalism, and soon a number of Swedish designers, including Carl Malmsten and Gustav Axel Berg, adopted a similar aesthetic.

The appeal and success of Swedish Modern rested precisely with its ability to foster an acceptable face for modern design. The designs of Frank and the other Swedes evoked for many an immediate sense of familiarity, even when the forms of their pieces were entirely new. What separated Frank from much of the rest of the Swedish design establishment was his continuing emphasis on quality and expensive materials. By the end of the 1930s, most of the Swedish designers were promoting less costly woods and mass manufacturing as a way to make the new aesthetic affordable for all. Frank, though he was sympathetic to such ideas, continued to shun modern methods of production, preferring instead old-fashioned hand-craftsmanship. Part of the reason went back to his interest in the Arts and Crafts movement and his belief in the importance of preserving handicraft in the machine age. But there were also more practical reasons for his decision: most of Svenst Tenn’s clientele came from Stockholm’s wealthy elite and Ericson had no desire to alter the shop’s business model. Eventually, in the 1960s, Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, would take the final step and make Swedish Modern design a worldwide phenomenon. But Frank was content to develop and expand his formal vocabulary while relying on traditional ideas of luxury.

In key ways, Frank’s work for Svenskt Tenn also departed from the modernist mainstream. In contrast to most of his contemporaries, he did not believe that designers had to spurn all past forms, only those “that Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117
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