Kathryn Campbell Dodd

20 May // Mai – 1 June // Mehefin 2018

After JF: Frippery for the Soul

This short exhibition introduces new work from the series After JF: Frippery for the Soul, an ongoing project of works on cardboard and fabrics which pay homage to the designer Josef Frank.

Josef Frank was born in Vienna in 1885 and emigrated to Sweden in 1933 to avoid Nazi persecution, later adopting Swedish citizenship. Originally trained and practicing as an architect in Vienna, Frank became the leading designer for the Stockholm design company Svenskt Tenn. He is probably best know for his bold, naturalistic and colourful textiles and furnishings.

Frank was deeply disquieted by the prevalent ideas of radical Modernism. He felt that the Modernist project had been hijacked by extremists who wanted to limit and define the movement by their own narrow terms of simplicity, purity and objectivity. In his essay Frippery for the Soul and Frippery as a Problem he argued that these utopian tenets of stern functionality simply did not respond to most people’s psychological needs.

He felt passionately that design should be driven by comfort, and that his designs might provide a sense of joyousness and exuberance against the stresses of everyday life. Although influenced by the designs of William Morris and the British Arts and Crafts movement, he also understood the inherent problems of that project as well as critiquing the homogenising tendencies of the machine-made, he said: “One can use everything that can be used” meaning that one should take from whatever is available both historically and technologically (a presciently Postmodern idea). Frank’s exuberant designs and ideas were later influential to Ingvar Kamprad who founded IKEA in 1965.

Kathryn Campbell Dodd

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