It was at the 2019 Salon Art + Design that we spotted this very rare and early first edition of the Flora / Model 852 Cabinet (1937) created by Austrian architect and designer Josef Frank (1885 – 1967). The cabinet was part of a prolific collaboration with Estrid Ericson, of the Swedish interiors brand Svenskt Tenn, which produced and retailed the piece. This piece was manufactured in 1950.
This collaboration featured Frank’s highly developed personal style which focused on elements of Viennese elegance and Swedish functionalism. He wanted to incorporate natural forms and colors into his interiors, so that the inhabitants could breathe freely in the enclosed spaces. He believed that “ornament and complexity create peacefulness and get rid of the disturbing aspect of pure functional form.” A perfect example of this ideology is the Flora cabinet.
For the cabinet’s exterior, Frank (who also designed textiles) used hand-colored botanical prints from Carl Lindman’s book, Bilder ur Nordens Flora, which he then delicately applied onto the mahogany front and sides of the piece. Oak was also used in the manufacturing process, and the birch interior is fitted with four adjustable shelves. The contrast between the delicate floral motifs and heavy wooden form instills the cabinet with a light, playful and organic sense. Contrasting materials evoke an echo of the past, but create an indisputably modern piece.