The story be­hind… String

House Beautiful (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Mod­elled around an in­no­va­tive light­weight wire frame, the String mod­u­lar stor­age sys­tem is ideal for con­tem­po­rary homes. Its move­able shelves can be eas­ily repo­si­tioned in the unique lad­der-like side pan­els and it can be ex­tended in all di­rec­tions de­pend­ing on space – the per­fect so­lu­tion for flex­i­ble liv­ing.

De­spite its mod­ern aes­thetic, how­ever, this sys­tem, which is now avail­able to buy in John Lewis, has its roots in the post-war era.

Cre­ated in 1949, the orig­i­nal String shelf was the win­ning en­try in a com­pe­ti­tion launched by Swedish pub­lisher Bon­nier to de­sign a book­shelf to hold its books. Out of 194 en­tries, the de­sign by Nils Strin­ning and his wife Ka­jsa, both young ar­chi­tects, was se­lected for its slen­der, con­tem­po­rary looks. The name String, re­fer­ring to the plas­tic-coated, me­tal ‘strings’ of the sys­tem and the cou­ple’s sur­name, was coined a year later, and the sys­tem be­came a huge suc­cess, sell­ing more units in Europe than any other Swedish fur­ni­ture de­sign.

In the 1970s the de­sign fell out of fash­ion and pro­duc­tion stopped. In 2005 the busi­ness was re­launched as String Fur­ni­ture by part­ners Peter Er­lands­son (above) and Par Josef­s­son, who saw String’s po­ten­tial in an era that was fall­ing in love with min­i­mal­ist Scandi in­te­ri­ors. ‘The orig­i­nal de­signs were sell­ing well on Ebay, so we knew there was an ap­petite and nos­tal­gia for String,’ ex­plains Peter. The pair worked with Nils Strin­ning who, aged 88, de­vel­oped Pocket, a rein­ven­tion of the orig­i­nal sys­tem, with smaller di­men­sions, ideal for hold­ing CDs and pocket books. ‘The Pocket shelves con­tinue to be a bit more ex­per­i­men­tal and trend-led, but the core sys­tem is in­tended to stand the test of time,’ adds Peter.

Nils died in 2006, and to­day, the com­pany col­lab­o­rates with in­te­rior de­sign­ers and ar­chi­tects in Stock­holm to de­velop Strin­ning’s classic model, while re­main­ing true to its her­itage. The ex­panded col­lec­tion in­cludes Plex, with clear plex­i­glass side pan­els, Works, which has a desk and other ac­com­pa­ny­ing pieces to cre­ate a home of­fice, and Plus ac­ces­sories, in­clud­ing hooks, rods and grids.

‘Every­thing is made in Swe­den, which is very im­por­tant to us,’ ex­plains Peter. ‘We’re still just as fo­cused on af­ford­abil­ity, so that young peo­ple with smaller homes can in­vest in String and ben­e­fit from its mod­u­lar, ex­pand­able de­sign. Stor­age that can grow with you is go­ing to bring much more value in the long-run.’

CLOCKWISE, FROM FAR LEFT Peter Er­lands­son re­launched String in 2005; String Orgmix grid and pock­ets, £76, Util­ity De­sign; at just 60cm wide, these shelves from the Pocket range have smaller di­men­sions than the orig­i­nal de­sign. The Ash/White colour­way...

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