The story behind… String
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...