Kaj Franck (Finland, 1911–1989)

Kaj Gabriel Franck was a leading figure in 20th-century Finnish design, specializing in ceramics and glass. As the creative director of Arabia Ceramics, now part of Iittala, he, along with fellow Finns Timo Sarpaneva and Tapio Wirkkala, helped popularize the bright, warm and curvy aesthetic of Scandinavian modernism. Design Forum Finland’s Kaj Franck Design Prize, established in 1992 and awarded each year around his birthday, is among the country’s most prestigious honors for designers.


Franck was born in 1911 in the city of Vyborg, which now belongs to Russia, but was then part of the Grand Duchy of Finland. He studied furniture design at the Central School of Industrial Design in Helsinki, and after graduating in 1932, worked as a catalogue illustrator for the Riihimäki glassworks, exploring interior and textile design on the side. Having served in the Finnish armed forces during World War II, he joined Arabia in 1945 as their head of design. He remained with the company for many years, steering its line of tableware in a dynamic new direction. Franck professed an aversion to superfluous ornament. His ceramic designs were nevertheless complex and eye-catching, animated with playful, geometric forms. One of his most famous creations for Arabia was the Origami dish from the early 1960s, a glossyall-white serving piece resembling a subtly folded piece of paper with four shallow sections for holding food.


Although his Arabia ceramics became household staples for consumers in Scandinavia and beyond, Franck is better known among collectors for his glass designs, particularly those he created for Iittala starting in the late 1940s. In a 1947 Iittala-sponsored glass competition, Franck shared the top prize with Tapio Wirkkala. In 1950, he designed the company’s iconic Kartio series of pressed-glass pitchers and glasses, which came in different colors that consumers could “mix and match” rather than having to buy a homogeneous set. In 1977, Franck redesigned the series, renamed Teemaa.


Franck’s designs for Iittala embodied the Finnish concept of pelkistetty, which literally means “reduced” and in the design world refers to the pared-down, minimal qualities of modernism. This principle, evidenced in objects like this elegant, unfussy set of four jewel-toned drinking glasses from the 1960s, informed Franck’s view of the manufacturing process as well. Critical of mass-production and consumerism, he was one of the country’s first professionals in his field to advocate recycling. He became known as the “conscience of Finnish design,” a role he embraced as a professor and later artistic director at University of Art and Design in Helsinki. In honor of Franck’s 100th birthday, in 2011, Iittala reissued Kartio glasses, Teema tableware and Purnukka jars, among other of his designs that retain their contemporary feel decades after their creation.

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Set of Six Colored Liquor Glasses by Kaj Franck for Nuutarjavi Finland

By Kaj Franck, Nuutajarvi Notsjo
Set of Six Colored Liquor Glasses by Kaj Franck fo...
Kaj Franck, Nuutajarvi Notsjo
Vintage 1960s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Glass
Teak, Glass
Charming set of iconic Scandinavian Modern liquor glasses in different colors with matching teak tray. All glasses are in perfect condition. They are designed by the finish Designer Kaj...
Soap Bubble by Kaj Franck for Nuutajärvi, 1950s, Glass Vase

By Kaj Franck, Nuutajarvi Notsjo
Soap Bubble by Kaj Franck for Nuutajärvi, 1950s, G...
Kaj Franck, Nuutajarvi Notsjo
Vintage 1950s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Vases and Vessels
Glass
This olive colored vase of glass called the soap bubble was designed by Kaj Franck for Nuutajärvi in the 1950s. Kaj Franck was one of the formative figures of Scandinavian design, which...
Finnish Dish Origami by Kaj Franck for Arabia of Finland, White Ceramic, 1960s
Finnish Dish Origami by Kaj Franck for Arabia of F...
Kaj Franck, Arabia of Finland
Vintage 1960s Finnish Minimalist Bowls and Baskets
Ceramic
White, oval multifaceted ceramic tray with clear gloss glaze. The geometric pattern like the folds of origami reflects light differently on every facet. Designed in the 1960s by Kaj Fra...
Origami Dish / Tray by Kaj Franck for Arabia of Finland

By Kaj Franck
Origami Dish / Tray by Kaj Franck for Arabia of Fi...
Kaj Franck
Mid-20th Century Finnish Mid-Century Modern Bowls and Baskets
Delightful and architecturally formed serving tray or objet by Kaj Franck for Arabia. Please contact for location.
Origami Form Ceramic Tray by Kaj Franck for Arabia

By Kaj Franck, Arabia
Origami Form Ceramic Tray by Kaj Franck for Arabia...
Kaj Franck, Arabia
Vintage 1960s Finnish Platters and Serveware
Ceramic
A geometric divided ceramic tabletop tray with glossy white glaze by Kaj Franck for Arabia. Finnish, circa 1960.
Set of Three Mid-Century Modern Iittala Decanters ...
Kaj Franck
Vintage 1950s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Barware
Glass
Set of three Iittala Finland decanters in like new unused condition. Consisting of one wine decanter and two beverage vessels. Iconic design by Kaj Franck.
Kaj Franck Cobalt Blue Glass Vase for Nuutajarvi Notsjo, Finland

By Kaj Franck, Nuutajarvi Notsjo
Kaj Franck Cobalt Blue Glass Vase for Nuutajarvi N...
Kaj Franck, Nuutajarvi Notsjo
Vintage 1950s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Vases and Vessels
Blown Glass
Stunning cobalt blue glass vase by Kaj Franck for Nuutajarvi, Finland.
Scandinavian Modern Glass Vase by Kaj Franck for N...
Kaj Franck, Nuutajarvi Notsjo
Vintage 1950s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Vases and Vessels
Art Glass
Small “KF 106? USVA (mist) glass vase by Kaj Franck for Nuutajärvi Notsjö in Finland. Lobed vase in foamy glass cased in clear. Engraved “K.Franck Nuutajärvi Nottsjö - 57?.
Kaj Franck for Arabia Origami Bowl

By Kaj Franck, Arabia of Finland
Kaj Franck for Arabia Origami Bowl
Kaj Franck, Arabia of Finland
Mid-20th Century Finnish Scandinavian Modern Bowls and Baskets
Modern design classic, "Origami" bowl, designed by Kaj Franck for Arabia. This is the oval form, it is in perfect, original condition, fully and correctly marked.  
Bulbous Green Glass Vase by Kaj Franck

By Kaj Franck
Bulbous Green Glass Vase by Kaj Franck
Kaj Franck
Vintage 1950s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Vases and Vessels
Glass
Bulbous green glass vase by Kaj Franck, Signed on underside.
Kaj Franck Nuutajärvi Notsjo Scandinavian Sommerso Blue Art Glass Bowl

By Kaj Franck, Nuutajarvi Notsjo
Kaj Franck Nuutajärvi Notsjo Scandinavian Sommerso...
Kaj Franck, Nuutajarvi Notsjo
Vintage 1960s Scandinavian Mid-Century Modern Bowls and Baskets
Art Glass, Blown Glass, Sommerso, Glass
Beautiful Scandavian dark blue and gray Kaj Franck, Nuutajärvi Notsjö art glass bowl. Made in a Sommerso style, fully signed underneath, and dated 1962. Has a tear drop or “willow leaf”...
Six Kaj Franck Kartio Mid-Century Drinking Glasses by Nuutajarvi Nottsjo Finland

By Kaj Franck, Nuutajarvi Notsjo
Six Kaj Franck Kartio Mid-Century Drinking Glasses...
Kaj Franck, Nuutajarvi Notsjo
Mid-20th Century Finnish Mid-Century Modern Glass
Glass
A set of six beautiful Kartio drinking glasses in grey, blue and amber from the 1950s. Designed by Kaj Franck, executed by Nuutajarvi Nottsjo Finland. In excellent condition.
Kaj Franck Glasses Model 1725 by Nuutajärvi Notsjö in Finland
Kaj Franck Glasses Model 1725 by Nuutajärvi Notsj...
Kaj Franck
Vintage 1950s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Glass
Glass
Rare set of 12 glasses model 1725 in original box designed by Kaj Franck. Produced by Nuutajärvi Notsjö in Finland.
1950s Kaj Franck Soap Bubble Glass Orb Nuutajarvi ...
Kaj Franck
Vintage 1950s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Vases and Vessels
Art Glass
A beautiful sculptural and fluid piece. The "Soap Bubble" vase in olive glass. Extensive signature, K. Franck, Nuutajarvi Notsjo Measures: 7 inch high.
Conical Glass Vase with a Clear Glass Base by Kaj Franck, 1911-1989
Conical Glass Vase with a Clear Glass Base by Kaj ...
Kaj Franck
Vintage 1950s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Glass
Art Glass, Blown Glass, Glass
A conical glass vase in midnight blues with clear glass base. Signed K.Franck Nuutajarvi Notsjo - 56. Finland, 1956. An influential figure in Finnish design, the design forum F...
Kaj Franck, Collection of Seven Vases, Art Glass, ...
Kaj Franck
Vintage 1960s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Glass
Kaj Franck, collection of seven vases, art glass, KF 245, signed K. Franck. Nuutajärvi Nuutajärvi, 1960, Finland, finnish design. Handblown, shaped by hand. Measures: Height 1...
Kaj Franck, Finnish Designer Three Red Bowls in En...
Kaj Franck
Mid-20th Century Finnish Scandinavian Modern Serving Bowls
Kaj Franck, Finnish designer. Three red bowls in enameled metal, Finel, Finland, 1950s. Diameter: 10-24 cm. In very good condition.
Arabia Finel Bowl Set by Kaj Franck, Finland, 1960

By Kaj Franck, Arabia
Arabia Finel Bowl Set by Kaj Franck, Finland, 1960...
Kaj Franck, Arabia
Vintage 1960s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Serving Bowls
Metal
Enameled metal bowls designed by Kaj Franck for Arabia Finel, Finland, 1960. This is for a nice set of seven bowls that could be used as peanut set. One large bowl and six small ones. T...
Great Wall Sculpture Group of Origami Ceramic Tray...
Kaj Franck
Vintage 1960s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Wall-mounted Sculptures
Ceramic
Group of Nine "Origami" Ceramic Trays, designed by Kaj Franck for Arabia, Finland, circa 1960's. The price noted below is for the set of nine trays. We are not selling them separately.