India Mahdavi’s ‘Frankly Yours’ Reinterprets Josef Frank’s Botanical Textile Art | News STIRpad

Iranian-French architect and designer India Mahdavi gives a new twist to the fundamental “tree of life” archetype that dots the textile art engravings by Josef Frank, one of the first figures of Viennese modernism. Taking inspiration from the hand-printed Vegetable Tree fabric of the Austrian architect of the 1940s, Mahdavi covered these prints on the walls, furniturecushions and lampshades for a exposure title Sincerely yours, India Mahdavi. The showcase, presented in collaboration with Swedish interior design Svenskt Tenn, open to the public during the recent Stockholm Design Week. Designs – including illustrations of fruits, vegetables, leaves and flowers – evoke the untamed exuberance of nature within the enclosed setting and echo the words of Frank, who believed that bright colors and powerful patterns could take away the feeling of confinement.




Frankly Yours, India Mahdavi, an exhibition presented at the Svenskt Tenn store in Stockholm Image: Courtesy of Svenskt Tenn

“The ‘Vegetable Tree’ print takes us back to the root of life: nature in its purest form. The joy I seek to convey through my projects is well represented through print and its wide range of colors. This exhibit is an exaggeration, where I placed the fabric all over the walls and furniture. It is a caricature of space, which makes it possible to perceive it differently and to highlight its beauty,” Mahdavi shares in an official press release.



The interior of the store features furniture from Frank and Mahdavi
The interior of the store features furniture from Frank and Mahdavi Image: Courtesy of Svenskt Tenn

Trying to breathe and breathe freedom into confined rooms, a goal Frank sought with every piece of his botanical art, Mahdavi’s work with this exhibition also seeks that liberation in the prints. “I wanted it to be super fresh. I wanted that when you walk into the exhibition space you find a feeling of happiness, showing how modern and timeless these fabrics are. The way I use this pattern, I wanted it to be a bit more radical, so I used the pattern as an overall feature covering all of Frank’s furniture and some of my own. It’s really a conversation we have,” adds Mahdavi.



Patterns convey a sense of happiness and freedom in enclosed spaces
Patterns convey a sense of happiness and freedom in enclosed spaces Image: Courtesy of Svenskt Tenn



Originally designed by Josef Frank, the textile design contrasts sharply with the standardized interiors
Originally designed by Josef Frank, the textile design contrasts sharply with the standardized interiors Image: Courtesy of Svenskt Tenn

The patterns, originally designed by Frank in New York from 1943 to 1945, conveyed his small appreciation for french architect by Le Corbusier conviction that a house should be a machine for living in. For him, standardization interiors meditate on the principles of modernism and producing things like tubular steel furniture was a threat to humanity. Rather, he preferred utilitarian pieces that people could see through. He joined Svenskt Tenn in 1934 where he worked closely with company founder Estrid Ericson. The duo received huge attention for designing the Svenskt Tenn showroom at the World Expos in Paris in 1937 and New York in 1939, projects which would become the model for the expression “Swedish Modern”.



Vases designed by India Mahdavi presented as part of the exhibition
Vases designed by India Mahdavi presented as part of the exhibition Image: Courtesy of Svenskt Tenn



Trays designed by India Mahdavi for the exhibition
Trays designed by India Mahdavi for the exhibition Image: Courtesy of Svenskt Tenn

truly yours also features a lampshade by Mahdavi, inspired by Frank’s 2326 lamp, as well as two pewter objects (a vase and a tray) that she designed as a tribute to Ericson’s work. “At the age of 30,” Mahdavi shares. “In 1924, she [Ericson] was already such an example for women: a strong and independent entrepreneur. The entire project honors the history, origins and work of Svenskt Tenn, Estrid Ericson and Josef Frank.



Lampshade designed by India Mahdavi featured as part of the showcase
Lampshade designed by India Mahdavi featured as part of the showcase Image: Courtesy of Svenskt Tenn

The floor lamp, she continues, “is all about the hype, with orange colors and a vibrant shade. The two pewter pieces are inspired by some of my small objects – sold in my eponymous shop located rue Las Cases in Paris.

A recurring thread in most of his work, color originally found its way into Mahdavi’s life following his eclectic childhood. She credits her close connection with colors to her memory and inheritance: from his Iranian and Egyptian roots, having grown up in the United States in the 60s and living in the south of France. “It’s a language that I learned to use fluently. As I see it, colors have conversations. They argue and reconcile,” she says. A similar conversation is sparked at Svenskt Tenn, and as Mahdavi puts it, “frankly It works very well.

Sincerely yours, India Mahdavi is on display at the Svenskt Tenn store in stockholm from September 05, 2022 to October 23, 2022.

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