Carl Malmsten, furniture designer

Though about 15 years younger, Carl Malmsten (1888-1972), who is probably Sweden’s best known mid-century furniture designer, was both a professional colleague and a friend of Märta Måås Fjetterström. As a designer, he respected the forms of traditional Swedish furniture — both Gustavian, and more vernacular examples — just as MMF respected the traditional forms of Skånian textiles. Their work was often shown together, including at the 1934 Exhibit at the Lilivalchs Konsthall in Stockholm, the 1937 Paris International Exposition, and the New York World’s Fair in 1939.

In 1931 Malmsten furnished his Stockholm showroom and office at Normalmstorg 12 in Stockholm, using one of her rugs to show off his furniture, Here is an archival photograph of the rug and the Malmsten furniture in place, and a color view of the rug itself:

CC Cmalmsten office and exhibition 1931ARKM.1988-112-5240
Malmsten Stockholm showroom and office with Märta Måås Fjetterström, rölakan and Malmsten furniture.
swedish-flatweave-02934-01Width-  523.2 cm _ 206 inch Depth-  767.1 cm _ 302 inch
Märta Måås Fjetterström, rölakan, designed before 1931. This example of the rug was much larger than the one shown in the photograph (and was produced after 1941), but has the same format. It was 206″ x 302″ or 523.2 x767.1 cm and was sold by FJ Hakimian, New York.

The following photographs taken of Malmsten’s show spaces,  booths #193b and #194a, at the 1934 Lilivalchs Exhibition, also show their joint products.   In the photograph of booth 193b, there are rag rugs on the floor, possibly from MMF, and Märta Måås Fjetterström’s distinctive drapery, “Skaftbladen” is shown in the opening dividing the two spaces. Here is the archival image, and a color view of that drapery. The drapery seems to have been a particular favorite of Malmsten’s: in Swedish Modern- A Movement toward Sanity in Design, the  book on Swedish arts and crafts produced for the 1939 New York World’s Fair,  a grouping of Malmsten pieces is seen framed by this same handsome hanging textile. In that photo the MMF rug, Korgmattan, is also displayed on the floor.

CC CM ARKM.1988-112-3866
Booth 193b, 1934 Lilivalchs Exhbition, Malmsten furniture shown with MMF Skaftbladen drapery.
MMF drapery, “Skaftbladen”, 1934. This example for sale by FJ Hakimian, 74″x 89″ woven after 1941.

In the photograph of Booth 194a, MMF’s “Rutmattan” flat-weave rug from 1933 was on the floor. Here is the archival photo, and a color view of the rug itself.

CC CM ARKM.1988-112-3867

Vita Rutmatan jpg
Märta Måås Fjetterström, rölakan, “Rutmattan”, originally named “Skånegardens Rutmatta,” designed 1933 and first executed for Ludvig Nobel. This example is 81 x 118cm (206×300 inches), and was sold by Wright Auctions 6/12/15, item #524

There are other undated archival photos from a photo-shoot of Malmsten’s furniture which show the extent to which he used these rugs to ground his furniture when displaying it. I’ll show some of those in another post.


Digitaltmuseum, Arkitectur och designcentrum photos, Identifier numbers: #s ARKM. 1988-112-5340; ARKM.1988-112-3866; ARKM.1988-3867;

FJ Hakimian New York

Stavenow, Åke and Mattis Hörlen, Åke H Huldt, Elias Svedburg, eds. Swedish Modern- A Movement toward Sanity in Design, The Royal Swedish Commisssion, New York World’s Fair 1939.

Wright Auctions Chicago.

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