Carl Malmsten was a Swedish furniture designer and architect, born in Stockholm in 1888. Renowned as one of Sweden's most celebrated furniture designers, he is known for his classic designs and a deep-seated philosophy that blends functionality with aesthetic beauty.

Carl Malmsten. Photo: Stiftelsen Siv & Carl Malmstens minne

Malmsten demonstrated a pronounced aptitude for furniture design from a young age. His first significant achievement came in 1916 when he won both the first and second prizes in a competition to design interiors for Stockholm City Hall. The following year, 1917, he participated in the iconic home exhibition at Liljevalchs Konsthall, which popularised the phrase ""more beautiful everyday goods"".

A fervent advocate of 20th-century classicism, often referred to as Swedish Grace, Malmsten created an extensive range of opulent furniture, frequently adorned with elaborate marquetry. His designs, produced by notable manufacturers such as Åtvidabergs Möbelindustrier and Nordiska Kompaniet, are celebrated for their simplicity, elegance, and practicality. He emphasised the use of natural materials and traditional construction techniques, aligning with human ergonomics and aesthetics.

In 1956, Malmsten achieved widespread recognition through an exhibition at the Röhsska Museum of Design and Craft in Gothenburg. At this event, he presented several pieces intended for mass production, which were manufactured by selected workshops to ensure high quality. These pieces became highly successful commercially.

Armchair, "Grandmother", with footstool.

Fostering Craftsmanship and Design Education

Throughout his career, Malmsten also founded institutions to promote craftsmanship and education in design, such as the Carl Malmsten Furniture Studies (Carl Malmstensskolan), now part of Linköping University. This institution has played a crucial role in educating many of Sweden's top furniture designers.

Carl Malmsten with a student. Photo: Stiftelsen Siv & Carl Malmstens minne

Malmsten's legacy includes a vast array of furniture pieces that have become iconic in Swedish design, as well as his influence on the educational practices related to furniture design and craftsmanship. His work remains influential and celebrated in Sweden and internationally, epitomising the principles of timeless design and sustainability.

Carl Malmsten passed away on the Swedish island of Öland in 1972.

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