Furniture that lasts: learning from iconic shelves designed by Nisse and Kajsa Strinning

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Furniture that lasts: learning from iconic shelves designed by Nisse and Kajsa Strinning

When it comes to creating timeless furniture, there is a lot to be learned from modern classics like the String furniture system.

The climate emergency is always at the forefront of the concerns of the design industry, an industry which on the one hand has the potential to threaten the ecological balance by generating more and more stuffy things for the planet, but of on the other hand, is populated by people trained to find solutions to problems. The issue of sustainability permeates conversations at all levels, challenging practices in all areas of the design process. But when environmentally responsible material sourcing and innovation are addressed, and when the environmental impact of manufacturing is calibrated to zero, all that’s left is the increasingly valued quality of sustainability.

Making it last becomes a panacea in terms of sustainable production. And when it comes to making sustainable furniture, one can learn a lot from Modernist classics such as String, the iconic shelf designed by Swedes Nisse and Kajsa Strinning in 1949. String answered the call of the house of Bonnier Edition for a shelving design that was affordable, deliverable and easy to assemble, allowing Swedish homes to store books in style. Winner of the competition, in 1952, String won a stage in the new United Nations headquarters in New York. Now a complete wall-mounted storage system suitable for multiple rooms, it is as relevant today as it once was. But what makes such a simple shelf design still welcome on our walls today as it was 70 years ago?

Courtesy of String Furniture
Courtesy of String Furniture
In 2014, String Furniture collaborated with Anna von Schewen and Björn Dahlström to develop a complementary office furniture collection, Works ™, comprising a desk with integrated drawer and pedestal.  Image courtesy of String Furniture
In 2014, String Furniture collaborated with Anna von Schewen and Björn Dahlström to develop a complementary office furniture collection, Works ™, comprising a desk with integrated drawer and pedestal. Image courtesy of String Furniture

Long-lasting design depends on several factors: a high quality of materials and construction which means that a part will survive the blows of life (and is endlessly repairable if it does eventually succumb), and the less quantifiable quality of timelessness, which means that the sofa you ordered today doesn’t eat your eyes out after just a few years of service, or the new kitchen doesn’t go out of style a year or two later.

The magic formula that produces a design classic is still the puzzle of the creatives, but it is no longer guided only by the profit of the company, but also by the needs of the planet.

“Simplicity and flexibility are timeless,” says String Creative Director Magnus Ingerstedt, assessing what makes minimalist design still relevant today. ‘It’s also a bit “invisible”. It allows your items and books to show; it does not compete. In 1949, books were a symbol of status and education. Now it’s all about selected objects, design and personal items. ‘ Minimalist String has the ability to transcend trends, quietly blending into a range of environments, as well as a knack for adapting and functionally evolving. From its simple beginnings it has grown into a complete system, its ladder racks supporting all kinds of storage solutions, from drawers and cabinets to hooks and hangers.

Learn more about String Works.

Courtesy of String Furniture
Courtesy of String Furniture
String Pocket, a compact floating version of String with three shelves, was developed in 2004 by Nisse Strinning, some 55 years after the original design of String shelves.  Image courtesy of String Furniture
String Pocket, a compact floating version of String with three shelves, was developed in 2004 by Nisse Strinning, some 55 years after the original design of String shelves. Image courtesy of String Furniture

Its popularity waned during the eighties and nineties, which can be attributed to the fact that it remained for some time housed in ancient materials and combinations that dated back to its heyday in the mid-1900s. century. In 2004, design experienced a renaissance and has remained open-minded ever since. “Adjusting a few things, like color, brought it back to a contemporary, classic piece of furniture,” says Ingerstedt. “The design itself is so iconic that it’s always clear that this is a Thong, regardless of the color.” To help herald the brand’s new era, String Pocket was born, a development designed by Nisse Strinning himself. A miniature version, it is useful for housing paperback books and displaying smaller items.

Courtesy of String Furniture
Courtesy of String Furniture
Although originally designed to bring books into the home, String Furniture seems comfortable to hold files or artwork, bags or plant pots.  It works particularly well in a hybrid life / work environment.  Image courtesy of String Furniture
Although originally designed to bring books into the home, String Furniture seems comfortable to hold files or artwork, bags or plant pots. It works particularly well in a hybrid life / work environment. Image courtesy of String Furniture

In 2014, String tested its “timeless” design muscles by introducing a new product family, Works, designed by architect Anna von Schewen and industrial designer Björn Dahlström. It includes sit-stand desks, with accessories such as computer stands and storage components that easily integrate, alongside mobile storage units and displays. Its strength is to offer contemporary functionality while blending aesthetically with the existing String wallet.

In 2019, String Outdoor was launched to adapt to new domestic behaviors, namely outdoor life. Made of galvanized steel, it has additional features that are relevant to life under the stars, such as a perforated tray for potting functionality and pegboard fasteners. “By evolving colors, materials and functions, you can always find new relevance. Adds Ingerstedt. And the smart thing is that String evolves not only with major life trends, but with an individual’s life arc – adapting to distinct individual needs over the course of a day and over the course of a day. decades.

The magic formula that produces a design classic is still the puzzle of the creatives, but it is no longer guided only by the profit of the company, but also by the needs of the planet. Maybe now, with over half a century of modern minimalist design under our belt, we can nail down some of the essential ingredients.



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