After the death of Märta Måås-Fjetterström in 1941, the future of her workshop was in question. Apparently, there was even interest from Americans (who?) offering to buy it and move it to the United States (industrial, rather than hand-craft production implied). With a cultural disaster in sight, the studio was rescued by a team of well-connected friends, among them Carl Malmsten, well-known furniture designer, Erik Wettergren, Director of the National Museum, as well as Sweden’s Crown Prince, Gustaf Adolf.
One of the first moves of these benefactors was to hire as head of the newly restructured AB MMF enterprise, Barbro Nilsson, at that time a well-regarded weaver and teacher, and head of the textile department of Sweden’s principal design school (i.e. college), the Konstfackskolan. This put the studio on a firm basis of experience and technical know-how. Many of Nilsson’s first rug designs for MMF, while fairly straightforward in their design, were nevertheless subtle and well balanced, and provided a good foil for furniture. In design they were considerably simpler than than the enormous tapestry compositions which she had woven for other artists before becoming head of AB MMF.
Here are two versions of her 1952 Falurutan rölakan: blue and red (both sold at Phillips NYC in June 2014). The rug was made in various sizes and also several other colors: greyish- brown, green, and a creamy tan.
In each case, the rug is composed of 3 deceptively simple grids. There are large squares in 3 shades of the same color, organized on the diagonal. There are also vertical strips of smaller color squares in contrasting colors, and double lines set just a row apart, very quiet horizontal punctuation. The vertical color notes for the blue rug are white, yellow and a mulberry-ish sort of purple. The red has purple, white and green.
You can see the AB MMF logo in the rug’s lower left and BN as designer in the lower right.
Moller, Viggo Sten. En Bok om Barbro Nilsson, Bokförlaget Trevi, 1977.
Lundgren, Tyra. Märta Måås Fjetterström och väv-verkstaden in Båstad, Bonnier 1968.
Phillips Auction House, New York; Design Auction June 2014; Object #s: 2 for red rug; 101 for blue.