Swedish mid century teak manufacturers and artists

Swedish-mid-century-teak-manufacturers-and-artists

When teak was introduced in the Nordics in the early 1950s it was seen as something new and exotic – a darker, more beautiful alternative to the native light pine and birch. Well known designers such as Bruno Mathsson, Tapio Wirkkala, Bertel Gardberg, Hans Wegner and many more fully embraced the new material and created objects that would later become classics.

Teak had its glory days up until the early 1970s when it became unfashionable and perhaps too expensive for the manufacturers. Since the early 1990s wild teak is no longer freely available and the Forest stewardship council regulates its use. But let us remember the good old days, when the future was bright, anything was possible and the wood was dark. Here are the most well known Swedish teak manufacturers of the 20th century.

 

Karl Holmberg AB – Götene Sweden

Karl Holmberg in Götene, Sweden started a furniture manufacturing company in the beginning of the 1920s. The company made exclusively furniture by order from larger companies or shops such as Nordiska Kompaniet in Stockholm.  The company slowly grew in the following 30 years and had about 20 employees by the 1950s. Karl Holmberg’s sons took over the company and the older brother Karl-Erik would later become majority owner.

In the beginning of the 1950s, the company’s production was completely restructured and all focus was put on objects made out of teak. The company started making everything for the home, except for furniture, but mainly trays and bowls.The company also launched its own cutlery series in the 1960s.

Karl Holmberg in Götene would in time become Scandinavia’s largest company making teak objects and had close to 100 employees by the mid 1960s. Teak however quickly feel out of fashion in the end of the 1960s and even trials with stained wooden items were made. The company couldn’t adapt and went bankrupt in 1973. Items by Karl Holmberg in Götene are recognized by a burned stamp or sticker.

Objects are marked Karl Holmberg AB Äkta Teak Götene Sweden.

 

John ‘Johnny’ Mattsson

The Swedish sculptor John (Johnny) Filip Mattsson was born in July 1906 in Gävle, Sweden and passed away in the same place in February 1970. He worked with wood such as pine, teak and mahogany. Many of his works were made from left over wood from houses that were torn down in Gävle in the 1950-60s, often pine form the 17th and 18th century.

His father also worked with wood in his spare time and in the fall of 1941, Johnny started Gävleslöjd, där he made candle sticks, table lamps and trays – simple home items made by hand. In 1945 he started working with sculptures, at first depicting birds and boats. In 1947, he saw a ‘beer goose’ (a wooden 19th century goblet with an upreaching handle) at the Gävle museum and made one himself – although a more slim and delicate version.

In the end of the 1940s he started getting attention and more orders from all around Sweden. In the 1950s he also designed the  ‘Varbergsbocken’ / ‘Varberg’s Goat’) – an similar red creation as the more famous Dala Horse.

In the fall of 1951 Johnny Mattsson met with Philibert Humbla, curator at Gävleborg’s museum. He was impressed by Mattsson’s work and compared him to Henry Moore, Jean Arp and Constantin Brancusi. In reality Mattsson had developed a defined style where the material greatly defined the form – creating timeless design in the process.

After Humbla’s visit, Johnny Mattsson exhibited at the Gävle museum in May 1952 to great reviews. This was Johnny Mattsson’s breakthrough. The exhibition was followed by another one at Nordiska kompaniet in Stockholm.

He also won diplomas at the Milan Triennale and in Florence in 1954. Items are marked with a carved JM and a Johnny Mattson sticker.

Read more at Precis En Sån.

 

Upsala Slöjd

The previously mentioned Johnny Mattsson worked as Upsala Slöjd’s artistic director for some time and designed mostly trays but also some other smaller items such as salt and pepper shakers for the company. They also made bowls in various sizes.

Marked Upsala Slöjd, Made in Sweden.

 

Ståko – StålKompaniet

Ståko (StålKompaniet / The Steel Company) was a Stockholm based company making and importing kitchenware, home supplies and decorative items. One of their most famous designs is their range of cutlery clad with teak on one side. Their teak bowls are often accompanied by some sort of metal and all items are marked Ståko. The company was closed down in the end of the 1970s.

Items are marked Ståko Sweden.

 

Bröderna Kjellström – Silva Sweden Ab

Silva is perhaps best known for its world renowned compasses but back in the day they also made wooden trays, mostly of out teak. The company started in 1932 as two companies, AB Instrumentverken and AB Bröderna Kjellström, by three brothers. The compasses spread around the world and the company got its breakthrough in 1952.

I haven’t been able to find out how the company ventured into making teak trays but teak trays they made. It seems that they also worked with the Finnish company Backman on figure sawed trays.

Items are marked Silva, Patented in several countries, Made in Sweden.

Images from Digitalt Museum.

 

Servex / Serwex / Sewex

Servex made teak veneer trash cans, bowls, ice buckets and coasters around the 1950s and one designer named is Martin Åberg. The company also went by the name Rainbow Wood Products Inc. Curiously, Swedish brand Carlsson speakers were fitted in the trash can.

Items marked Servex / Serwex, Sewex, Made in Sweden, International Designers Guild, Made in Sweden, Rainbow Wood Products Inc.

 

Söwe konst

Sigvard Nilsson (1938-2014) attended the Essem school in Malmö, Sweden and studied sculpture and crafts. In 1954 he started his own company focusing on handicraft and everyday use objects such as trays, bowls and ladles. Sigvard Nilsson’s choice of material was initially domestic wood such as birch and oak and but later also used teak. His company fared well and employed up to ten people with much of the production shipped to the US and Germany. Sigvard Nilsson was awarded in both the US and Sweden and his forest and wood knowledge led to him often being asked to lecture on the subject.

Marked Söwe Konst Sövestad Sweden Genuine Teakwood

 

Stig Sandkvist

Stig Sandkvist was born in 1928 in Vemdalen, Härjedalen, Sweden. Apart from bowls he also made animal sculptures, necklaces, decorative items and a well know Christmas candle holder for Luma. He started the company ‘Sandqvists hemslöjd’ in the early 1950s and together with local people they made decorative wooden items with a local nothern Sweden look. The factory burned down in 1976 and Sandkvist passed away shortly thereafter. The company is now named Vemdalia.

Marked SS / Sandkvist /  Jämtland Härjedalen Slöjdalster / Nordisk Presentlaster

 

A. Bergenblad Konstslöjd Vetlanda

To be continued…

 

Bodafors

To be continued…

Albert Larsson – Alberts Tibro Sweden

To be continued…

Nordisk Presentdesign T Lundberg / Hellström – Jämtland Härjedalen, Slöjdalster

To be continued…

Yngve Ekström (1913–88)

To be continued…

Kanevad

To be continued…

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