Carl Malmsten

Stockholm: Staken reading light by Carl Malmsten

Carl Malmsten Staken floor light birch, pine Well, what a wonderful city Stockholm turned out to be! Fine lighting News was there for the first time last week for the Stockholm Furniture Fair, which incorporates the Northern Light Fair.

Actually, we had expected it to be good because everybody we told we were going, who had been themselves, said the same things: (1) its a great city (and listed the things they suggested we did) and (2)  go in the summer when one can enjoy the open spaces and go out to the archipelago. Everybody we met there said the last bit as well.

But the Fair is when the Fair is, and most of what we wanted to do was indoors anyway. Over the next few posts, we'll draw your attention to some of the things that we found at the Fair itself, but Stockholm is blessed with excellent design/interiors shops and we found some important things in them too.

Next to Svenskt Tenn, one of the worlds's very finest interiors shops, and well able to hold its own in such august company, is Malmstenbutiken.

Malmstenbutiken Stockholm exterior

The shop is dedicated to the work of Carl Malmsten whose charming grandson, Jerk, now runs it.

Malmstenbutiken Stockholm interior

Carl Malmsten himself (1888-19720 is one of the most influential figures in 20th century design, who helped create the æsthetic that the rest of the world associates with Scandinavian furniture. This is well summed up on Malmstenbutik's web site:

[He] devoted his life to the renewal of traditional Swedish craftsmanship, inspired by the cultural examples of the Swedish country manor and rustic styles – furniture endowed with a creative simplicity, with a feeling for the wood itself, with function in mind and a high technical quality. [...]

Carl Malmsten was an individualist who took a strong position against the functionalism, which blossomed during the 30's. As an alternative he put forward a totally different program for a renewal of architecture and goods for everyday use. He fought for the right of humans to experience beauty.

His influence partly stems from important commissions, such as furnishing Stockholm City Hall and other key buildings in the city, such as the Concert Hall (where the Nobel prize giving ceremonies are held) and the Ulriksdal royal palace.  But probably more so from the two schools that he founded: the Carl Malmsten Furniture Studies in Stockholm (since 2000, part of Linköping University) and Capellagården on the island of Öland. He wanted to restore the tradition of apprentices learning from masters. Every piece of furniture is to be:

... extremely functional, each...representing a unique work of art. With masterly quality down to the smallest detail, these pieces represent the antique treasures of the future. Thus they are an excellent investment today.

The light that particularly struck us is the Staken adjustable floor-standing task light, that can be set to the perfect height for someone sitting reading in a chair. It can even have a little table attached for your schnapps:

Staken floor light in walnut cherry with table

He may have designed it as early as 1928 but the official date is 1941. However, it could have been designed yesterday, partly because wooden lights are so fashionable at the moment (this one comes in -- deep breath -- walnut, cherry, oak, mahogany, light birch, or pine, or it can be painted black or white),  but mostly because of its efficiency and  timelessness. Above all, it is very satisfying.

There is a wide choice of shades -- plain (in white, blue, green, brown or pink)...

Shade for Staken floor light white, blue, green, brown, pink

...or patterned:

Carl Malmsten Staken floor light patterned shades

So a wonderful light in a wonderful shop in a wonderful city!

Here's the man himself -- he was designing and planning right up to his death in 1972.

Carl Malmsten at his desk


Print Friendly and PDF