Architect and Designer Josef Frank, born in Austria is considered one of the most important architects and applied artists of modernism, whose work continues to influence international design today. He fled to Sweden in 1933 and started his true career as acclaimed designer for Swedish design company Svenskt Tenn.
In 2016, the Altstadt Vienna and Jennie Pineus - Director of Svenskt Tenns Interior Designstudio - brought Josef Frank back to Vienna.
Tell us a bit about Svenskt Tenn and the connection to Josef Frank?
Estrid Ericson, the founder of Svenskt Tenn had visited a home Josef Frank had made for a family in Stockholm in the early twenties. She liked it very much and contacted him but as far as we know they didn’t start to actually collaborate until 1933.
As for Svenskt Tenn it is an interior design company located in Stockholm, Sweden. It was founded in 1924 by Estrid Ericson, who recruited Josef Frank to the company 10 years later. Together they created the elegant and boldly patterned personal interior design style that continues to pervade the collection to this day.
“The purity of the room and the richness of detail,” preached Estrid Ericson, who was quick to embrace Joseph Frank’s ideas on white walls, light and mobile furniture, tables, and appropriate lighting without ceiling fixtures. But she also added her own personality to the mix. Josef Frank began working at Svenskt Tenn in 1934 and just a few years later, the Frank/Ericson duo made their international breakthrough. Svenskt Tenn’s exhibition room at the World Expositions in Paris in 1937 and in New York in 1939 was completely contrary to the ideal of the time with its bold contrasts in materials, colours and patterns. The duo received a great deal of attention and became, somewhat paradoxically, the model for the expression Swedish Modern.
Despite the fact that he was already 50 years old when he fled Nazism for Sweden and Svenskt Tenn, the Austrian architect and designer is considered to be one of Sweden’s most important designers of all time.
What did you enjoy most when creating the room? What was the biggest challenge?
It was not really a challenge mostly a joy and an opportunity. We enjoyed to show how the design of Svenskt Tenn can vary in expression and depending on what fabrics you use, what furniture pieces you put together and use of color. Svenskt Tenn has always collaborated with well known, as well as up and coming designers in our collection to create a contemporary look and feel. In most of our projects we also mix with other brands and auction items. To create that interesting mix.
We always create a home that is based on who you are and how you want to live, or create an unusually personal public space.
Did you know from the beginning how the suite should look like in the end? How did you proceed?
Yes it all came together as we planned. Firstly you have to understand the target group. In this case a design savy, cultural and international hotel guest with high expectations. With that in mind we created a space that was both using the philosophy, the aesthetics of Josef Frank and Estrid Ericson as well as being contemporary with an edge. Without losing the comfortable feeling and sense of joy.
What is your favorite piece in the room?
The cabinet 522 Textile Mahogany. Josef Frank designed the fabric-clad 522 cabinet in 1934-35. Dressing furniture with fabric was part of the British furniture culture and what appealed to Frank was the contrast between the hard wood and the soft fabric. The cupboard is made of mahogany and covered with the textile Cellotocaulis. There are a number of options to choose from.
Can all furniture and accessories be bought at your web shop?
You can buy all designs especially made for Svenskt Tenn. We have a number of designers of today designing for us as well as historical ones designed by Josef Frank and Estrid Ericson. So there is a lot more.
What is the connection between Josef Frank and Altstadt Vienna?
Frank represented a freer, more artistic style ideal, and he developed his own type of modernism with values such as comfort, relaxation and a wealth of colour in focus. I think this is applicable to the values of Altstadt. Their differentiated rooms, personal touch, hominess and artistic choices.
What would Josef Frank think of the room dedicated to him?
He would be pleased I am sure. He was a pioneer in many ways, went his own way. When functionalism was prevailing he, in contrast to his peers, created colorful patterns, and comfortable and homie interiors. It is our task to bare that in mind and translate into interiors of today.
Have you ever stayed overnight at Altstadt Vienna?
I haven’t, yet! But I have seen many of the rooms and how different and personal they all are.
Why have you decided to work with Altstadt Vienna?
We are able to reach a target group we would love to work with and who would appreciate our values. Also it enables us connect to Josef Franks heritage and history. Svenskt Tenn's Interior Design Studio is a team of interior architects and textile designer who happily combine old and new and high and low, exactly as Estrid Ericson and Josef Frank once did. Every effort is made to create a home that is based on who you are and how you want to live, or to create an unusually personal public place.
Why would you recommend Altstadt Vienna to your friends?
It will be an experience and the location is great.
What do you do first when entering a hotel room?
Try the bed and the pillows.
What do you need to feel comfortable in a hotel room?
A nice bed and bathroom and a relaxing atmosphere.
Last question: What is the most inspiring place in Vienna?
I don’t know Vienna all that well. My last visit was to the MAK which is an amazing museum.