|1970's Enamel Bowl by Kaj Franck for Finel|
Kaj Franck (1911 - 1989) was a Finnish designer who many of us would know by forms rather than by name. If you are a denizen of the world of Ebay then his enamel pieces often pop up in the same categories as Cathrineholm and Scandinavian mid-century objects. His output was extensive and he crossed over between glass, enamelware, and ceramic forms. He also experimented with plastics but these seem disparate to his original inspiration. Supposedly a mediocre student at a school near Helsinki he rose to become one of Scandinavia's most pre-eminent 'industrial' designers. I use that term with respect as I don't wish to imply his work was 'mass' by virtue of his scale of production.
|Kartio Glasses by Franck for Iittala.|
The fact that he straddled the gap between mass-market and prestige has long fascinated me. As a producer based in a small studio I can only imagine his excitement in having the means to work with other materials and techniques. To be able to translate your designs in to glass after creating a ceramic collection with a company like Arabia must have been both professionally, as well as personally, liberating. His work with glass was greatly influenced by restrictions in colours after the war and the training he received at Murano in Italy. He also displays a reference to the cubist Georges Braque in his glass production.
|Pumukka Ceramic jars for Iittala by Franck|
With his ceramics he also captured the consumer mood as he exploded the sales at Arabia with his Kilta collection. His practical fusion of utilitarian and high design made his works both desirable as well as functional. In modern parlance it was a 'win win' situation for the sales division! Apart from the fact his work has a timeless feel to it, his simplicity creates a sense of familiarity which in turn evokes a sense of comfort. Not bad for a so-so student who was told he'd be a good potter because he rowed in circles!