bold surreal josef frank fabric and furniture design

a designer savy friend is incorporating panels of josef frank’s wallpaper into her new home in florida.  frank’s dramatic designs are clean, crisp and full of color.  my friend is expecting a new baby.  perhaps she feels there should be more perk in the child’s upbringing.  or maybe she is freaking out from her move to florida from europe and this is a coping mechanism…..

Svenskt Tenn at Strandvägen in Stockholm

Svenskt Tenn at Strandvägen in Stockholm displays Frank's furniture and random design style.

frank’s designs come from vienna in the 1920s and then sweden from the 1930s on.  they are remarkable given their time and place.  while the severe minimalist bauhaus designers were becoming vogue, frank and his partners rejected those restrictions but still advanced in a modern direction of their own, adapting various 1800s styles and forms, european and asian.   

vegetable tree, josef frank

vegetable tree, josef frank

 

dixieland, josef frank

dixieland, josef frank

 

Gröna fåglar, cotton

Gröna fåglar, josef frank

 

catleya, josef frank

catleya, josef frank

 

teheran, black, josef frank

teheran, black, josef frank (he made a lot of patterns with an alternate white background)

 

US tree, josef frank

US tree, josef frank

“Mix old and new, colors and forms. Things that you like will all the same melt into a quiet unity. The home does not have to be planned in detail, not artful, just linked together by parts that its occupants enjoy and love.”

Josef Frank (1885-1967)

easy chair 568, josef frank, 1936

easy chair 568, josef frank, 1936

 

easy chair, 336, josef frank

easy chair, 336, josef frank

 

Sofa 968, josef frank

Sofa 968, josef frank

 

chair, josef frank

chair, josef frank

you can see this ‘chuck a whole bunch of unlikely things together’ philosophy in the fabric dsigns themselves.  personally, i do not see it all melting into a quiet unity.  although there are some more mellow designs in their inventory (see many more samples and info about frank at  Svenskt Tenn ) i cannot conceive of an inclusion of his fabrics on chairs or walls in my home without creating a loud disunity.  

fran, where is your sense of adventure?, you might ask. (and i have been asked many times…) sorry, maybe i am a bit dull, but i find the surreal aspects of his designs unsettling.  surrealism  has a disorienting, hallucinatory dreamlike quality.  like reading ‘alice in wonderland’ as a child, or singing along to ‘the yellow submarine’ as a teenager.  wow, strange but cool ideas. then later, when you are a mother reading ‘alice’ to your children, you are relieved to discover that lewis carroll was on drugs when he wrote the book, and so were the beatles much of the time.  ah, you say to yourself, that explains it.  not that you trash alice and the beatles, but they become less marvelous.  

i am not accusing my friend of being on drugs because she likes josef frank’s designs.  i cannot find any evidence that frank was on drugs.  he did live in disorienting times, though.  vienna was a dynamic crossroad of culture and history during his early training.  radical crossroad upbringings can be disorienting.

i wonder what his viennese jewish family suffered while frank and his wife took refuge in sweden from the nazis.  maybe to frank the world was surreal. understandable.   

for myself i need to hold on to truth and real ordered uncluttered design.  i find this settling in an unsettled world.   

but maybe i am looking at this the wrong way.  frank and his partner, estrid ericson, loved life, family, pets, and the ability to rearrange furniture and furnishings often.  they liked to incorporate new things and a variety of styles in one room, as if it had been thrown together by accident.  perhaps i am confusing accidentalism with surrealism.  even so, i find neither very calming….

you should have more color in your life, though, fran, my friends say…..  just spare me from too much pink…

Gösta Glase)

Josef Frank and Estrid Ericson admire Josef Frank’s "Primavera" pattern. (Photo: Gösta Glase)

hollywood regency interior design: glamorous… and dusty

 

creamy vintage paris boudoir vanity chair

creamy vintage paris boudoir vanity chair

the glamor of the hollywood regency interior design style is a mimicry of the early movie heyday star’s lifestyles and tastes.  these people entertained lavishly, their homes were adorned with exotic furnishings and dramatic flair. they were adored almost as royalty.  hollywood regency furniture is a broad category difficult to define.  the look is not minimalist, but some pieces within the design can be.  it can include mid-century modern or older styles, asian pieces, blacks, whites, wood grains, just about any kind of color combination that suits your taste.  but heavily carved and heavily upholstered pieces are often included.  

designers william haines and dorothy draper lived this life and developed this look for others.  they were gutsy, wealthy, successful and admired.  these websites are worthwhile.  

haines interior

william haines interior

 

william haines
william haines, 1900-1973
The lobby of the Hampshire House, completed in 1937, Dorothy Draper

lobby of the hampshire house, completed in 1937, dorothy draper

 

dorothy draper 1889-1969

dorothy draper 1889-1969

we do not have to spend thousands to incorporate this style (just look like we did), thanks to online used furniture dealers. there is a large assortment of hollywood regency style furniture online, especially on ebay.  my favorite companies are ts and company and art collector-usa.  they offer an excellent blanket wrapped furniture moving service, tsc moving.

a regency is a substitute government or rulership.  they had them in europe when the royal heir was still a boy, for instance, or when there was no clear ruler for a time, or when the ruler was absent.  some would argue that hollywood movie stars are the royalty of america, substitutes because we don’t have anything else.  you don’t vote for or against the stars and argue endlessly about their ideas and actions.  the adored actors are just there.  wonderful, rich, envied.  this was especially true during and the decade after the second world war.  their world was a welcome escape.  it was a reminder that war and the hardships it created were not the only reality.  we welcome the same kind of refuge in these times.  when we mimic their style, we attempt to capture something of their lifestyle for ourselves, the ability to impress and offer the comfort and luxury to our friends as we entertain. 

but be warned: this style is dusty.  writing this piece i cannot help thinking about numerous vintage furniture items i have dealt with in the hollywood regency style.  you need a maid (or you are the maid).  these people had maids, believe me.  the tufted upholstery chairs are tricky to clean.  folds of fabric and those fabric covered buttons trap dirt and animal hair.  the buttons tend to go missing.  they are one of the most expensive re-upholstery jobs, the most time consuming if you attempt it yourself.  lots of carved woodwork, chandeliers, interesting ornaments sitting on coffee tables, all gathering dust.  do we honestly have time for this?  does the imagined serenity of the rich and famous really rule our desires?  maybe that ambition is also dusty.

globalization, interior design, and art nouveau

Tassel House, Brussels, 1893, Victor Horta, First floor landing with view toward staircase

tassel house, brussels, 1893, victor horta, first floor landing with view toward staircase

if i could be transported to another time and place, i would be fascinated to visit the few decades before the first world war.  ideally i would not be in one place. i would travel the world and the world would be traveling to me.  globalization on the rise.  

Orchid desk, Louis Majorelle and Daum Frères, mahogany, gilded bronze, and glass

orchid desk, louis majorelle and daum frères, mahogany, gilded bronze, and glass, france 1903

Vilmos Zsolnay Vase, 1899, Hungary

vilmos zsolnay, vase, 1899, hungary

a crazed group of 1910 british bankers sing a frenzied song at little micheal banks in mary poppins, trying to induce him to invest his tuppence  in railways through africa, dams across the nile, fleets of ocean greyhounds, majestic, self-amortizing canals, plantations of ripening tea. 

this economic globalization paralleled a radically changing europe’s outlook and lifestyle. interior design and furniture design would be forever changed. you can argue for or against globalization, but this seems to be a waste of time.  it just happens.  go with the flow.  

interior designers, especially in the art nouveau movement, began the modernist trend toward lighter more open rooms and furnishings. forms and techniques used in islamic and asian, especially japanese, art and architecture were incorporated. new materials and techniques were possible because of the industrial revolution.  ancient styles, materials and techniques were rediscovered.  

the result was a grand flourish of exotic possibilities, pushing design away from the heavy, stodgy forms of the past.  

for more info go to the art nouveau exhibit at the national gallery of art from which i borrowed these four images.

the ladies luncheon Room, ingram Street, glasgow, scotland, 1900, charles rennie mackintosh and margaret macdonald.

the ladies' luncheon room, ingram street, glasgow, scotland, 1900, charles rennie mackintosh and margaret macdonald.

high brow furniture website, a great find in my lounge chair search

highbrowfurniture.com is my great find of the evening.  i spend bits and pieces of time during my week working on my blog and quick research finds are bonus.  at this site, they focus on “twentieth-century iconic classics byAmerican designers,” and when you scan down the list of possibilities, a neat photo pops up to give you a first look.  web designers take note. this beats scrolling through long pages and lists, only to click and find it is not what you were after.  i shall add them to my blogroll and pop back often. the whole design is invitingly uncluttered.  

what do you think of this design for some outdoor lounge seating — i am leaning towards some folding pieces and a wood frame to compliment our wood deck and woodsy back yard. 

 

wegner folding chair @ high brow furniture, tn

wegner folding chair @ high brow furniture, tn

wegner folding chair with hanger

wegner folding chair with hanger

high brow price: $6126,  $6502 with hanger.

lounge chair design, the need to unwind, furniture classics up to thonet

 

upholstered chaise lounge thonet brothers 1900

upholstered chaise lounge thonet brothers 1900

can you picture lying around in this lounge chair in 1900?  this is the edwardian era in england of ‘upstairs downstairs’ and ‘mary poppins.’  who had the time to lounge then?  only the few, only the rich.  but life is stressful for all walks of life and the chaise lounge offers a welcome attitude-in-waiting to unwind.  

i was glad to find these pics on designboom.com.  they have several pages of the history of the day bed.  nice idea, history had, to bed in the day.  i concur (today, at least).  to go all day and stop only at night does not always cut it.  not that i do not believe in hard work, and live to work, but some moments of calm, of thought, of rest, of sanctuary, are needed to pause in the day or to unwind in the evening. having your feet up at such moments helps.    

here are some of thonet’s chaise lounge predecessors and others of their designs of that era.  relax and imagine.  

medieval drawing of a day-bed, early 13th century @ designboom.com

medieval drawing of a day-bed, early 13th century

 

resting bed (in french lit a repose), england, later 16th century

resting bed (in french 'lit a repose'), england, later 16th century

 

chair a duchesse , france 1765

chair 'a duchesse' , france 1765

 

kangaroo day bed virginia 1830s

kangaroo day bed, virginia 1830s

 

napoleon III steel camp daybed circa 1850

napoleon III steel camp daybed circa 1850

 

rocking reclining chaise-longue, thonet brothers, austria 1883

rocking reclining chaise-longue, thonet brothers, austria 1883

 

thonet chaise-lounge, austria, ca. 1890

thonet chaise-lounge, austria, ca. 1890

 

thonet chaise lounge ca. 1980

thonet chaise lounge ca. 1980

 

garden recliner, thonet brothers, ca. 1900

garden recliner, thonet brothers, ca. 1900

 maybe they were gazing at a garden like this…. whilst pondering future artistic possibilities of the chaise lounge pose.

english garden landscape design

furniture design and the lounge chair search: organic form

 

organic form french lounge chair @ bond and bowery

organic form french lounge chair @ bond and bowery

now this is a smooth looking chair, and i find the shape inviting.  it has new upholstery and the wide arm rests, the contrast with the clean fabric and the wood are wonderful.  it swivels and rocks.  made “in the spirit of richard neutra,” the ad says, of a 1950s design.  

if i did not have cats, it would look as perfect as it does in this picture in a few years, in my house. maybe i shall deal with the cats and dash up to center 44 in ny, with $8,500, to get this chair!  

center 44 is advertising on bond and bowery, and their website was a valuable find in my lounge chair design search.  the whole site is a pleasing exploration of art in furnishings and furniture, antique, vintage and modern, with succinct but informative descriptions of each piece.  

thanks to material girls blog for their blog about the bond and bowery website.  

the frenchman richard neutra designed the california landmark, the lovell heath house, by the way, also a classic in architectural design.   

the lovell health house, california, designed by

the lovell health house, 1929, california, designed by richard neutra who inspired the lounge chair above

eames was also an architect first, and said that furniture design was architecture, and was inspired himself in part by richard neutra.   we are never an island.

furniture design – in search of the perfect lounge chair – 2/2 meet the eames version

 

eames herman miller classic lounge chair

eames herman miller classic lounge chair - sold on ebay for $3,251.00

i love the bent rose wood shell, and leather (or vinyl) are my favorite upholstery choices.  in search of a great lounge chair for me, i like an ottoman chair combination.  this is a great chair, but…

the leather is dark (black, usually), and it has a masculine look.  i want a chair that will hold up outdoors, under a porch, but still out in the humidity, in florida. herman miller does make an aluminum lounge chair with ottoman, which they expect to be used outdoors.

 

Herman Miller® - Eames® Aluminum Group Lounge Chair and Ottoman

Herman Miller® - Eames® Aluminum Group Lounge Chair and Ottoman

again, it has a decidedly masculine look.  not as soft.  this one sells for $1,928.00, new. (click on the picture to link).

 

here is part 2 of the introduction of the 1956 eames lounge chair.  note that a man is sitting in it, in the advert, and the woman is perched prettily on the footstool….. nice picture, but i want to lounge some too! (and i don’t think i perch so prettily…and not much perching at all, now that i think about it.)

Eames Lounge Chair debut in 1956 on NBC [2/2]