I’m sure many of you will be very familiar with the brand behind my first “chat with…” of the year, String Furniture. I for one am the proud owner of several of their shelving and storage systems, and dread to think what an unorganised mess my family and I would be in without them.
While today String Furniture offers a range of products for every room of the home, as well as the garden for that matter, it was in 1949 that Nisse and Kajsa Strinning won a competition to find a bookshelf that balanced functionality with form and changed Scandinavian design history forever.
Met with immediate success, thanks to being affordably priced, easy to ship and easy to assemble it soon became a best-seller. But this hasn’t always been the case. Thanks to the foresight and heartfelt passion of Peter Erlandsson, and his partner Pär Josefsson, almost eighty years on, the power and purpose of this historic brand is set to last.
Over to Peter to tell us more:
Can you start by telling me a little about your story, where your love for design came from, and your role at String Furniture?
I have always had a keen interest in modernist and postmodernist architecture and design. Our family home is by the Swedish Architect Per Friberg, and our house in Borrego Springs, California by the American architect Richard Orne.
When it comes to the interiors meanwhile, Danish designers like Børje Mogensen, Paul Kjaerholm, Hans Wegner and Poul Henningsen are some of my favourites, along with Alar Aalto and of course, our own Mats Theselius.
My role at String Furniture is co-founder and owner. Day-to-day I’m very involved with product development, the extensions of the range, and finding new designers, but this wasn’t always the case.
Many years ago now my wife had an interior design store, and it was when a customer asked for String shelving, we learnt from the distributor that the company had gone bankrupt that same week.
Determined to fulfil our customers wishes we got in touch with Nisse Strinning, the original designer and founder of String directly, and he was very positive to let somebody else relaunch String. The rest, as they say, is history.
String Furniture has become a truly iconic Scandinavian brand, but what for you sets it apart? What do you see as String’s design legacy?
What sets String apart is the iconic design and the simplicity in its construction, which allows for infinite combinations.
The flexibility of String ensures that it stays relevant, and because the design is timeless it’s enduring in look and feel.
Simply put, it’s a classic that will enhance most interiors, whilst being modular enough to fit into many different circumstances and life stages.
You, and your partner Pär Josefsson, relaunched String in 2004, What modifications and adaptations did you need to make to the original 1949 design?
Well, nothing really. The measurements today are exactly the same as they were in 1949. It’s perfectly possible to combine a shelf made seven decades ago to wall panels and modules made now, and it is obviously still manufactured in Sweden.
For us, it was simply a matter of reviewing colours, the choice of wood, and so on. Over the years we have added product extensions in collaboration with designers such as Anna von Schewen and Björn Dahlström, introducing new materials like galvanised steel, a freestanding version and a lot of accessories so String Systems can be used in a kitchen, hallway and also outdoors.
With its timeless look and ease of use an integral part of String Furniture’s design DNA, what do you think other furniture brands can learn from what you do and how you do it?
String was born in a very innovative time, when architects and designers were fearless in trying out new shapes, functions, and materials for a new way of life.
What we do today is stay true to the design, the core concept, and avoid getting tempted into territories that don’t align with these long-lasting principles.
After almost eight decades, how is String looking to the future? How do you see String Furniture and its products evolving?
String continues to go from strength to strength and is getting discovered by new generations across the world.
Everything we produce aims to fulfil five parameters: form, function, quality, a fair price, and sustainability. We already have a great sustainability standard, but we are constantly working to reduce our environmental impact as far as possible, and to take greater social responsibility.
While the String measurements will always stay the same, there will always be new colours and exciting new functions to meet our consumers needs in the future.
Thank you, Peter, for taking the time to chat with me, I am very much looking forward to seeing what 2022 holds for String Furniture.
Want to know more?
To find out more visit the String Furniture website, where you will also find a super handy planning tool to build your own shelving and storage system.
All images courtesy of String Furniture.