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Kaj Franck

Viipuri 1911 - Santorin 1989


Kaj Franck was the third in the stellar trio of leading Finnish designers alongside Tapio Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva. Until Kaj Franck studied furniture design 1932 at the Central School of Industrial Design in Helsinki (Taideteollinen Korkeakoulu) in Helsinki. In 1933-34 Kaj Franck illustrated catalogues for the Riihimäki glassworks. In subsequent years Kaj Franck worked as an interior designer, decorator and textile designer. In 1939 Kaj Franck was inducted into the armed forces.
In 1945 Kaj Franck began to collaborate with Arabia, becoming head designer for the company, which he would remain for many years. In 1946 Kaj Franck designed tableware for the Finnish Family Welfare Association. In 1947 Kaj Franck participated in a design competition for glass mounted by Iittala and shared first prize with the designer Tapio Wirkkala.
Kaj Franck designed porcelain objects for daily use; from them he derived his ideals and the qualities he required of design. According to Franck, to be designated good and beautiful, an object had to be durable, robust, easy to clean, functional, do justice to the materials used for it, and indispensable. All superfluous decoration was eschewed.
Between 1946 and 1950 Kaj Franck designed pressed-glass wares for Iittala, including the practical water jugs and drinking glasses of the "Kartio" series. In 1952 Kaj Franck designed the "Kilta" range in china for Arabia, which was no longer conceived as a traditional service. Instead, the individual pieces could be combined as the purchaser chose.
One of Kaj Franck's last projects was redesigning this series, again for Arabia. The outcome would be his most consistent design: the 1977 "Teema" series comprised nineteen pieces based entirely on the elementary geometric forms of the circle, square and cone.
Reduction to essentials reflects most clearly Kaj Franck's conviction that "the only possibility for resolving the technical aspects of utilitarian wares consists in being both radical and socially committed."


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Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
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