Josef Frank’s gorgeous wallpapers from designs he created from around 1920 to 1950 have proved to be timeless — complex yet calming, whimsical yet sophisticated — as suitable for trendy interiors today (wallpaper is having another cyclical ‘moment’) as for owners of mid century homes who want to stay true to the era. Good news: We can still get wallpaper true to Frank’s original designs, in various colorways, in 10 patterns from Svenkst Tenn, the Swedish company with whom he worked for decades, and 2 patterns from Schumacher. I reached out to both companies, who graciously supplied images of these Scandinavian Modern classics — treasures! — from their Josef Frank collections. And yes, Svenkst Tenn will ship to the U.S.!
Josef Frank wallpapers from Svenkst Tenn — 10 designs available today:
In all, I count 10 Josef Frank wallpaper designs — in a variety of colorways — currently available for sale Svenkst Tenn.
Svenkst Tenn checked with their Archive and told me that Josef Frank created 19 different patterns for wallpapers that they know about. The company does rotate these in and out of production over time.
The company also has a wide array of textile patterns to choose from, which they also rotate — check if you can do matchy matchy!
In all, Josef Frank created 160 different textile prints — all originally done in watercolor — for the company! His last design was ‘Himalaya’ created in 1953, when he was 68.
Popularizing the Swedish Botanical print
Frank’s wallpaper prints available today are mostly “Swedish Botanicals”. Frank created them based on real flowers, but also created his own playful hybrids, mixing a tulip with a rose, for example. He loved botany and was known for collecting and studying books on flowers. His furniture applied with botanical drawings and wallpaper also is apparently very collectible today. Get out the decoupage if you want to DIY this Josef Frank look!
- Lovely story from Svenkst Tenn on the history of some of Frank’s iconic Swedish botanical prints.
- Another story from the New York Times Magazine on the history behind favorite Frank botancial patterns featured in a 2017 museum exhibit in London.
The botanical patterns were very successful and along with his other work, were instrumental in helping establishing Svenkst Tenn as one of the icons of Swedish Modern design.
A multi-talented soul, Frank in 1950 … career winding down at Svenkst Tenn … also became what he called a “hobby painter” doing watercolor paintings. Subject matter included modern houses and many other topics.
JOSEF FRANK DESIGNS AS EARLY AS 1920
Frank was an Austrian architect and designer, who launched his career in Vienna. He was Jewish, and in 1934 he left the country with his wife, who was Swedish, for safer haven. Svenskt Tenn’s owner Estrid Ericson, herself a visionary, hired Frank that same year, and, “in just a few years later (they together) made their international breakthrough. Although he was already 50 when he left the burgeoning Nazism in Vienna for Sweden, Frank is considered one of Sweden’s most important designers,” the company says.
The Svenkst Tenn archives also include prints going back to Frank’s early years in Vienna. There, Frank had his own, successful retail and design firm, Haus and Garten. His beloved Primavera design dates to 1920. He created it for his own home in Austria, and scholars say it set the foundation for all his textile designs to come. Primavera can still be purchased as a fabric from Svenkst Tenn. Celotocaulis, from 1930, is also an early print. That said, it seems most of the patterns in the Svenkst Tenn wallpaper lineup are from about 1942 to 1950, when Frank produced his last textile design.
Printed old school style — amazing:
Gallery of Josef Frank wallpapers from Svenkst Tenn:
- Shop all the Svenkst Tenn Josef Frank wallpapers here
Josef Frank wallpaper from Schumacher — 6 options
Meanwhile…. There are 2 different prints — each in several colorways — of Josef Frank wallpaper available from Schumacher. Check also for matching fabrics.
Architectural Digest says that these Josef Frank designs were commissioned by Schumacher when he lived for a few years in New York during World War II. Citrus Garden and Exotic Butterfly were among the prints commissioned in 1947. They were re-released by Schumacher in 2017. AD says that some of the offerings are in the original palette, others are ‘more subdued takes’.
The Schumacher wallpapers:
So much to love about Josef Frank
There’s so much more to know about Josef Frank and his design ethos. I go into it a bit more in this story — “a colourful brand of modernism” that ‘protested the prevailing functionalism’ of the more austere / ‘the house is a machine-for-living’ modernists. Oh, how I would like to get in a time machine and go back to meet and talk with Josef Frank while he works behind his easel!
Thanks to Svenkst Tenn and to Schumacher for all the wonderful images — and for making these delightful wallpapers available!