A world of magical interiors

Sustainability, quality and commitment. Svenskt Tenn's core values have remained the same ever since art teacher Estrid Ericson started the company in 1924.

Eighty per cent of Svenskt Tenn’s range consists of products that are of its own design. Josef Frank alone left behind 2,000 furniture sketches and about 160 textile designs. The store also has furniture and other objects by some of the most skilled designers and craftsmen of our time.

It is not only the aesthetic heritage that makes Svenskt Tenn so special, but also how the company is formed. Svenskt Tenn is owned by a foundation, with the goal that the company should live forever. All profit generated by the company is donated to research in areas such as environmental sustainability, genetics, biomedicine and pharmaceuticals.

Ulf Linde, professor of art once wrote this about Svenskt Tenn: “Estrid Ericson’s store was more than a store, more than a showroom. It was a detailed dream version of a way to live.”

We meet the future based on this legacy. Svenskt Tenn is an ever-changing scene – completely in the spirit of Estrid Ericson.

History - Svenskt Tenn

History

In October 1924, Svenskt Tenn opens its doors on Smålandsgatan in Stockholm. Only thirty years old, Estrid Ericson, the art teacher from Hjo, invests the small inheritance she has just received from her father in her company.

Together with the established pewter artist Nils Fougstedt, Estrid Ericson wants to offer modern pewter objects at reasonable prices. They produce these themselves in the little workshop behind the store. Pewter has quickly become one of the most exciting materials of the era, competing more with the new glass and ceramics of the time than with metals such as silver and silver plating. Svenskt Tenn quickly gains recognition as an established brand of quality, and establishes a name for itself. In 1925, it receives a gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris.

More about Svenskt Tenn's history
Philosophy - Svenskt Tenn

PHILOSOPHY

“There’s nothing wrong with mixing old and new, with combining different furniture styles, colours and patterns. Things that you like will automatically fuse to form a relaxing entity.”

Josef Frank wrote this in the 1950s and the fact is that his humanistic modernism, in combination with Estrid Ericson’s artistry, are still fundamental for Svenskt Tenn’s interior design philosophy today. Together the duo created a highly personal style with touches of both Viennese elegance and Swedish functionalism. In contrast to the ideal of the time, it was colourful and patterned, included both high and low, and unabashedly borrowed from all sorts of cultures and eras.

Always current

Many would attest to the fact that Josef Frank’s way of thinking is applicable even today. He is highly esteemed not the least among today’s young designers. His National Museum Cabinet has garnered a number of design accolades and his textiles are a source of inspiration for many contemporary print designers both in Sweden and other countries.

Around the turn of this century, interest in Svenskt Tenn experienced another international renaissance. The British-American interior design magazine Wallpaper wrote again and again about the strength of Josef Frank’s designs and when Ballantyne Cashmere wanted to create a modern concept in his prestigious shop in Milano, he wallpapered the walls with Frank’s “Brazil” print.

Estrid Ericson and Josef Frank actually succeeded in creating that timelessness which so many strive for but so few manage to achieve.

Handicrafts & Quality

“Made in Sweden” has always been and will always be highly regarded at Svenskt Tenn. Basically the entire range is manufactured in Sweden. And if we sometimes make an exception it is either because there aren’t the quality suppliers we require or the production capacity isn’t available.

Estrid Ericson was a big friend of Swedish handicrafts. Inspired by the British arts and crafts representative William Morris, she held the highest esteem for work that was crafted by hand and that approach lives on in the company. Svenskt Tenn today has a goal to support and develop high quality Swedish handicrafts. The company’s owner, the Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation and the board of Svenskt Tenn, have given express orders to never compromise on quality.

Local production

A large portion of Josef Frank’s furniture is made at the same carpentry shops in Småland and Sörmland that have been delivering them since the 1950s. The glass is made at the Reijmyre glassworks, among other places. Fabrics are made of 100 per cent cotton or linen of the highest quality. The prints are screen printed in a time-consuming process. Just 60 metres of a boldly coloured print like “Hawaii” takes an entire day to print. But screen printing pays off in the long run, not the least because it is a process that enables overprinting. For example, blue can be printed on yellow for a green surface. Josef Frank was something of a specialist in this area, and it gave his prints beautiful, living surfaces. In “Brazil” he overprinted as many as three colours. The Frank prints are also printed with reactive dyes which also impact the quality – both in terms of the feel of the textile and because they age beautifully. Reactive dyes blend into the textile fibres in contrast to pigment colours, which remain on the surface. The quality of the weave is naturally also important for the overall result.

The pewter workshop in Western Götaland in Sweden is another one of Svenskt Tenn’s long-time suppliers. Just one of Anna Petrus' pewter lions requires 20 to 30 hours of intensive work. It starts with moulding the pewter into six different shapes. Then all of the parts are polished, which requires special procedures as the lion is heavy and has many uneven parts. Finally, the parts are joined together. This process has not changed since the very first lion was produced in 1926. Even the moulds are the originals.

Estrid Ericson - Svenskt Tenn

Estrid Ericson

Estrid Ericson turned over a new leaf in Swedish design history when she offered Josef Frank a safe haven in which to live and work in 1934. The Austrian architect and the Swedish storeowner quickly became an unbeatable duo.

Although, it was Josef Frank who designed the furniture and textiles, it was Estrid Ericson (1894 – 1981) who had the eye for how they would best come into their own. Together the two transformed the sober and objective functionalism into something soft and homey. Their version of functionalism was international and sophisticated and it included patterns, colours and objects while still managing to maintain simplicity.

Read more about Estrid Ericson
Josef Frank - Svenskt Tenn

Josef Frank

Josef Frank has had an enormous impact on the history of Swedish design. Despite the fact that he was already 50 years old when he fled the burgeoning Nazism for Sweden and Svenskt Tenn, the Austrian architect is considered to be one of Sweden’s most important designers of all time.

At Svenskt Tenn, Josef Frank received both a unique stage and invaluable help from Estrid Ericson, who was an exceptionally artistically inclined producer. He awarded her by being extremely productive: there are over 2,000 furniture sketches and 160 textile prints signed Frank in Svenskt Tenn’s archives.

Read more about Josef Frank