Happy 125th birthday, Josef Frank! My Google page looked surprisingly cheerful this morning, as the leading search engine honors today the birth of the famous architect and textile designer in a customized logo that highlights Frank’s artistic work. I'm loving this bright and visible testament to the far-reaching influence of design.
"We wanted to celebrate the life and works of Josef Frank by showcasing the luscious flora that appears in many of his textiles. Not only was Frank an innovator in his truly unique designs, he also produced a large body of playful work—a quality that we value at Google," says Jennifer Hom, Google doodler.
Frank was born in Baden bei Wien, Austria, and educated in Vienna in the early 20th century. He became a leader among the young generation of Austrian architects after the First World War, and he was involved with the influential Vienna Circle of thinkers and philosophers. Frank famously differed from many modernists by insisting on pluralism, not uniformity, and the hallmark of modernism. Rather, he saw a need to create an approachable, humane modernism that met everyday needs, opposing the esoteric extremes of some modern architecture.
Josef Frank moved to Sweden in 1933, where he would live and work until his death in 1967. There, Frank's work helped define modern Swedish design. He worked as chief designer for the Svenkst Tenn company for over 30 years, creating many colorful, eclectic objects. Frank is particularly known for the vivid patterns of his textiles work.
Frank was influenced by the International Style trends developing in the 1910s and 1920s. He focused on the totality of domestic environments, and designed objects appropriate for domestic settings, including furnishings, textiles, and decorative pieces.
Considered as one of Europe's leading modernists, Frank presaged the eventual rejection of extreme forms of modernism in the 1960s. Despite Frank's influence, many believe his work has been neglected in recent years. Today's Google tribute will hopefully alert millions of users to the significance of Josef Frank's life and work, and to the subtle but strong power of everyday design.
(More on Frank’s life and work can be found in: "Josef Frank: Architect and Designer: An Alternative Vision of the Modern Home"; "Josef Frank: Life and Work"; and wikipedia.com)