Today I want to pay homage to Josef Frank.
Austro-Hungarian by birth, Frank was fifty years old when he fled to Sweden to escape the Nazis. There, he created some of his most iconic designs, among them many of the textiles for which he is so well remembered.
I will never forget the first time I encountered his work. We were visiting Manny’s grandmother in Stockholm when she suggested we drive out to Millesgården, the historic home of artist couple Carl and Olga Milles.
(Detail of the Milles sculpture garden.)
Tucked away on the Milles property is a little beauty known as Anne’s House, which takes its name from Carl’s assistant, Anne Hedmark, who lived here after his death in 1955. The furniture and interior are designed by — you guessed it — Josef Frank.
(Living room at Anne’s House, Millesgården, Stockholm.)
Seeing the living room from behind a wall of glass — its muted walls and floors, overlaid with ecstatic patterns and banks of vibrant color — did something to me. It clicked. I think what’s so interesting to me about this is that, sure, the room is pretty, but it’s not actually terribly special. The fireplace and natural light are nice. But the space itself is a plain box, really, in a lovely but overall rather ordinary house. It is a simple space with uncommon touches. You can imagine this being your living room. Some part of my brain filed all this away.
When we bought our house this past year then, my fascination with JF resurged. I started looking at patterns on Svenskt Tenn. I wanted curtains, couches, chairs — everything La Plata! Then I did some conversions from SEK to USD and realized that — at $350 a yard, y’all — I cannot afford to swathe the bungalow in Josef Frank. And really, with a basset hound, a couch covered in La Plata isn’t so great of an idea.
So I did what any normal woman would do in my situation. I ordered a single exorbitantly priced La Plata pillow — so I could at least have a piece of JF in my home — and attempted to conceal from my husband just how much I had spent on it. Unfortunately, I ordered it from Etsy, not realizing that the account is linked to my husband’s email rather than my own, so he knew immediately how much it cost. Lesson learned! I am not good at being devious. There’s also that thing people say about marriages being based on honesty, I guess…
A few years ago, Apartment Therapy published a High/Low piece on getting the look of Josef Frank for less. I’m not convinced by every selection, and many of the patterns have since been discontinued, but it did show me the way in terms of thinking outside the box, so to speak.
In all honesty, finding something convincingly Josef-Frank-esque is pretty difficult. But, lo and behold! Ikea sells curtain panels that fit the bill. #Ferncurtains!
The Ikea SYSSAN curtains are a total steal at $59.99 a pair. I want to meet the designer, Ann Wessblad, and kiss her. These babies are now on display in our bungalow bedroom.
The hunt for convincing Josef Frank-esque textiles continues. In the meantime, I am still trying to talk Manny into letting me cover our entire kitchen in Josef Frank, a la this photo of a room by Lukas Göthman, from Plaza Déco, May 2011. We’ll see how that goes.