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Kaj Franck

Biographies
Kaj Franck

*  1911 Viipuri/Finnland
† 1989 Santorin


Kaj Franck is, along with Tapio Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva, one of the most important and successful Finnish designers. Kaj Franck studied furniture design at the Central School of Industrial Design in Helsinki (Taideteollinen Korkeakoulu) until 1932. In 1933-1934 Kaj Franck illustrated catalogues for the Riihimäki glassworks; in subsequent years he worked as an interior decorator, decorator, and textile designer. In 1939 Kaj Franck was called up to serve in the armed forces. The close contact Kaj Franck had at that time to the socially underprivileged exerted an influence on his thinking that would last a lifetime. From 1945 Kaj Franck worked as an industrial designer. From 1945 until 1973 Kaj Franck was head designer atist at Arabia although he also designed for other firms. In 1946 Kaj Franck designed tableware for the Finnish Social Welfare Association. Iittala mounted a design competition in 1947; Kaj Franck submitted a design and shared first prize with the designer Tapio Wirkkala. Kaj Franck designed porcelain objects for everyday use, eschewing all superfluous decoration. In his view, an object had to be durable, robust, easy to clean, do justice to the materials used, and be indispensable in order to be designated good and beautiful. From 1946 until 1950 Kaj Franck designed pressed glass for Iittala, including the water jugs and drinking glasses in the "Kartio" range. From 1952 Kaj Franck designed the "Kilta" tableware line for Arabia, which was no longer conceived as a traditional service but instead left it up to the purchaser to combine pieces as desired. One of Kaj Franck's last projects was redesigning the "Kilta" line. Kaj Franck's new (1977) "Teema" line comprises nineteen pieces, all of them based entirely on the elementary geometric forms of circle, square, and cone. Thus consistently reducing design to essentials is the clearest reflection of Kaj Franck's idea that "the only possibility for resolving the technical aspects of utilitarian wares consists in being both radical and socially committed".