Designer Desire: Kaj Franck

Mosaic of Kaj Franck designs | H is for Home

What? We’ve never featured Kaj Franck on Designer Desire before? How did that happen?!

We have some of his designs in our home and in our shop. So far, we own a ‘Muki’ mug decorated with Raija Uosikkinen’s ‘Lintu’ pattern and a large ‘Kulho’ bowl with Esteri Tomula’s ‘Tatti’ mushrooms pattern (6th from top, on the left).

The one design on his wares that I really, really desire is ‘Sydän’, the red hearts on white enamelware range (3rd from top, on the right). This pattern was designed by Gunvor Olin-Grönqvist. I’ve seen it on bowls, plates, kettles, jugs and mugs – but the condition and price has never been right.

Kaj Franck (1911-1989) was one of the leading modernist Finnish designers working in glass, ceramics, enamel and metalware. He was artistic director at Arabia (now Iittala) and produced many of their designs as well as ones for their subsidiary company, Finel. He also designed many pieces for glassware company, Notsjö Nuutajärvi.

After researching Franck’s back catalogue, we realised that there’s a similar scenario to the design collaboration between Cathrineholm designers Grete Prytz Kittelsen and Arne Clausen. One person designed the vessel (which was Franck’s domain) and others, such as Esteri Tomula and Raija Uosikkinen, produced the applied pattern.

Some of his popular ranges – such as Teema crockery, Scandia Cutlery and Kartio glassware – are still being manufactured and are available from the Scandinavian Design Center and Finnish Design Shop. I prefer his more colourful, more interesting vintage designs which are always available on eBay, Etsy, Pamono and Bukowskis.

There’s a book on Franck that I’d love to buy, or failing that, have a flick through entitled Kaj Franck – Muotoilija / Formgivare / Designer, currently on sale at around the £100 mark.

Portrait of Kaj Franckcredit

Additional image credits:
1st Dibs | Bukowskis

Fine Finel Find!

'Fine Finel Find!' blog post banner

detailed view of red, vintage Finel enamel mug decorated with repeating bird pattern | H is for Home

Perhaps ‘find’ is too strong a word – more a patient track down. We’ve long coveted this particular enamel mug designed by Kaj Franck for Finel.

red, vintage Finel enamel mug decorated with repeating bird pattern

We’ve been holding out for a really good example, in pristine condition. Our wait ended this week when we won the bidding on a well-known auction website. We just love the stylised birds and fiery colours – it really is a stunner!

view of the base of a red, vintage Finel enamel mug decorated with repeating bird pattern

Finel is responsible for some fantastic pieces of enamelware.

red, vintage Finel enamel kettle

Great designers such as the aforementioned Kaj Franck, Seppo Mallat and Antti Nurmesniemi worked for the company.

detailed view of a red, vintage Finel enamel kettle

Their pieces are decorative, functional & well made.

large, vintage Finel enamel bowl decorated with mushroom pattern

We have quite a few pieces dotted around the house including cups, teapots & bowls.

detailed view of a large, vintage Finel enamel bowl decorated with mushroom pattern

This bowl is decorated with a fabulous mushroom design. It was probably intended for the kitchen or dining table, but ours seems to have adopted the role of tea light storage container!

collection of blue vintage Finel enamel bowl decorated with circles in a square pattern

We also like to keep examples for sale in the shop. We currently have one of the teapot/kettles shown above. Also, this lovely set of bowls – perfect for serving starters, salads, curries, desserts – anything really! It consists of one large bowl with the geometric circle/grid design and six smaller bowls in the same vibrant blue.

detailed view of a collection of blue vintage Finel enamel bowl decorated with circles in a square pattern
One more design that still eludes us is the repeating red & white heart shape one – but we’re keeping our eyes peeled!

Busy Bees!

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vintage milk jug designed by Kaj Franck and produced by Arabia of Finland

Yes, we know, it’s a picture of a cow jug – but we’ve been very busy bees recently! We had a lovely mention in the Guardian Weekend Magazine recently – and a frenzy of orders, packing & posting followed.

sky blue vintage 1950s powder coated aluminium teapot vintage 1950s tea tin

It’s now calmed down a bit, and we’ve been back out buying new stock again.

set of four vintage teak candle holders set of vintage frosted jug and glasses

We’ve picked up some really great stuff and had a big listing session on Friday.

vintage pastry crimper vintage wall clock produced by Kienzle of Germany

We added items to most of our shop sections – these are some of our favourites!