Kaj Franck

Every Finn has used an item designed by Kaj Franck at some point in their lives, probably either tablewear pieces such as Teema or his Kartio glasses. He is one of the great designers of every day items and art class in Finland.

Kaj Franck was born November 9th, 1911 in what used to be Viipuri, Finland at the time, and is now known as Vyborg Russia. He died September 26, 1989 in Santorini, Greece while on a holiday trip. He studied furniture design and graduated in 1932. Early on he mostly worked as an interior and fabric designer, but did also do a stint at Riihimäen Lasi glassworks. In 1945 he started teaching at his alma mater as well as working as a designer at Arabia. In 1946 he participated in a competition for new decorative glass designs held by Iittala, and got both second and third price. The first price went to Tapio Wirkkala. Soon after he joined Iittala as a glass designer. He transferred to Nuutajärvi glassworks in 1950 beginning a relationship that lasted until his death. He loved Nuutajärvi’s glass blowers’ traditional artisan ways of working and as well as the opportunities presented by modern pressed glass manufacturing.

Franck described functionalism as the foundation of his career as a designer, and his designs were very minimalist. He served as artistic director at Arabia and Nuutajärvi for many years. He received numerous awards over the years, including a Gold Medal in 1951, a Diplome d’Honneur in 1954, and a Grand Prix in 1957 at the Milan Triennale. He also received the Lunning Prize in 1955, and the Compasso d’Oro Prize in 1957. In 1964 he was awarded the Prince Eugen Medal. He received the Pro Finlandia Medal in 1957 and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Royal College of Art in London in 1983.

Kaj Franck 1911 - 1989

Kaj Franck 1911 – 1989