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Josef Frank’s universe of patterns inspires Folkform's pleated lamp shades
Folkform - Pleated For Frank at the Svenskt Tenn showroom
Image: Courtesy of Svenskt Tenn

Josef Frank’s universe of patterns inspires Folkform's pleated lamp shades

The sculptural lamp collection, for Svenskt Tenn, crafted using traditional pleating techniques by Folkform, is currently on display at the former’s showroom in Sweden.

by Almas Sadique
Published on : Mar 24, 2023

Josef Frank, a 20th century architect, artist and designer, unlike his contemporaries, advocated building customisable designs and spaces that could be configured in tandem with the user’s needs and desires. He did not believe in accrediting the status of art to his works, nor did he consider them absolute and perfect. Instead, the Austria-born Swedish designer welcomed additions, transpositions and customisations to his work. He strayed away from envisioning standardised designs and developed his own interpretation of modernism where comfort, ease, and variety occupied prime focus. He painted, designed, and built, keeping in mind future alterations. With the intention of suffusing spaces with lightness, vibrance and humour, Frank also created numerous colourful designs for furniture, carpets, wallpapers, fabrics and furnishings.

One of the designer’s artistic endeavours was undertaken in collaboration with Svenskt Tenn, an interior design brand in Sweden. Frank created a series of botanical prints for the brand, blending fantasy flowers with the motifs of his favourite ones such as lawn daisies, tulips, roses, bindweed, forget-me-nots, violets, lily of the valley, crocuses, and grape hyacinths. Through these prints—inspired by the colours and forms of nature—he wanted to suffuse indoor environments with a sense and feel of freedom. Nearly six decades after his demise, the meticulously detailed artworks by the designer continue to influence contemporary creatives and suffuse spaces with vibrancy. Inspired by Josef Frank’s universe of patterns and colours, Stockholm-based industrial design studio, Folkform, created a collection of sculptural lamps that are currently on display at Svenskt Tenn’s showroom, under the exhibition Folkform - Pleated For Frank. The exposition opened to the public during Stockholm Design Week 2023, on February 7, and will continue to remain on display until May 19, 2023.

Folkform, founded by Anna Holmquist and Chandra Ahlsell in 2005, focuses on building objects that sit at the intersection of craft and industrial design. They patch together real and faux leather, Carrara marble and laminates, and more such incongruent materials, with each other, to build chairs, benches, lamps and tapestries. The idea behind their material and production explorations is simple yet unique—the art and design duo intends to mass-produce objects distinct in their appearance and feel, from each other. Holmquist and Ahlsell scatter organic matter onto wet composite boards and press them to create a series of quick fossils. This not only helps in crafting several objects at the same time but is also an efficient process for creating customised and unique pieces.

Their latest explorations in pleating techniques, for Svenskt Tenn, has resulted in the creation of Pleated for Frank, Folkform’s third collaboration with the brand. The collection comprises two table luminaires and various lamp shades, in different patterns and colour variations. Pleated lamp shades have been a part of the Swedish brand’s range since the 1930s. The latest iteration of lamps, however, includes novel innovations that combine traditional pleating techniques with a new form of construction. “Our fixtures are different from many other pleated lamps because the base of the lamp is a pleated shape as well, not just the shade. We have even updated the traditional pleating technique by hiding the entire lamp structure on the inside without any visible holes or cords, something that has not been done before,” shares Anna Holmquist of Folkform.

The collection includes three classic patterns created by Frank, namely Aristidia, Brazil and Poisons, as well their monochrome versions in the brand’s own linen fabric. The Aristidia print, originally called Tang, after the Swedish term for seaweed, was called this due to the infusion of various aquatic elements such as starfish and seaweed in the design. It was later renamed after the Greek writer Aristides. Brazil, on the other hand, is named after the South African country that contains two-thirds of the world’s remaining rainforests and integrates motifs that serve as an ode to the rich flora in the region. Lastly, Poisons combines the motifs of wine, tobacco, and hops.

Commenting on the idea behind the monochrome thematic of the exhibition, Karin Södergren, Head Curator at Svenskt Tenn shares, “For the exhibition, we worked together with Folkform to create a monochrome space where everything from walls and ceiling to furniture and floor are showcased in different shades of green. This places the lamps in focus, creating spots of light around the green room.”

Folkform - Pleated For Frank is on display at Svenskt Tenn in Strandvägen, Stockholm, Sweden from February 7 to May 19, 2023.

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