Luke Edward Hall is having a big week. For one thing, the young British artist and designer finally gets to visit Stockholm for the first time, a place he has been dying to go for years. Additionally, in related news, Hall is going there to celebrate the launch of his collaboration with Svenskt Tenn, which puts his painterly figurative faces and forms over everything from linen pillows to decorative trays to hand-painted lampshades. The collection will be available from Svenkst Tenn online, or by visiting its boutique on Stockholm’s idyllic Strandv?gen.
You may well be familiar with Luke Edward Hall from his Instagram account, which documents the aesthetic adventures of this colorfully foppish chap whose style cues are part Jean Cocteau, part David Hockney; or from his ceramic pieces, which he will soon sell at MatchesFashion.com. You may well be less familiar with Svenskt Tenn, a leader in a country rich with warm and humanist interior design. It's the iconic (and philanthropically-minded) manufacturer of Gustavian furniture given an elegantly early 20th century update, and the work of the Austrian emigree Josef Frank, who arrived in Sweden in 1933, and is the creator of some of the gorgeous textiles ever. Full disclosure here: Yes, I am a huge, huge fan.
It turns out Hall is just as enthusiastic. His Frankian conversion happened around eight years ago, when he stumbled across the then-Svenskt Tenn outpost at London department store Liberty. When Hall went on to work for an interior design firm, he’d incorporate Frank’s designs into his work. “When Josef Frank started to design for Svenskt Tenn in the ‘30s, everything was so modernist and minimalist,” Hall says, “and he was creating these insanely complex and beautiful fabrics. They’re loud, they stand out, but somehow they also blend so well with other fabrics; they don’t clash with anything.” And, he goes on to say, “they look like they could have been designed today, or in the 1950s. They’re like William Morris’s fabrics: Timeless.”
Flash forward to the holidays last year, and the roles reversed: the Svenskt Tenn team came across Hall’s pop-up shop at Liberty. Before he knew it, they were emailing him to ask if he wanted to collaborate. He didn’t take long to say yes. And while Hall is personally drawn to Frank's verdant florals and botanicals scrolled over dark neutral backgrounds—think of Hawai or Teheran, for instance—he, perhaps understandably, wanted to take a very different approach with his own Svenskt Tenn textiles. “I wouldn’t try competing with Josef Frank,” he says, laughing. “I would have found it difficult to do a leaf or a vegetable. I wanted to do something different, which is why I focused on faces, or to select my favorite symbols from antiquity, like columns and arrows. Everything feels like a character in a story. That’s how I look at it.”