Coffee and— Rugs??

In 2013 a well-known Swedish coffee company, now part of a larger corporation, sold eight MMF pieces from their collection, most of them by Barbro Nilsson and Marianne Richter. Nearly all of these were brown (coffee) colored. But the firm’s backstory is also interesting.

That story starts in Helsingborg, on the west coast of Sweden, Arriving in Sweden with coffee expertise developed in Brazil, Carlos Zoegas married a local young woman, Maria Tuvesdotter Thunell, and a year later in 1886, founded Zoegas Coffee. The couple established themselves in a building which housed the shop itself, the roastery in the basement, and their own apartment upstairs. Unfortunately, Carlos died just three years later, but Maria determined to keep the business going. In 1890, she married again, to one Johann Svensson, a pastry maker. Remarkably, he agreed to change his name to Zoegas to keep the brand in the family. The business continued to grow, and by 1901, the entire operation was moved to another apartment building which they built on a street called Drottningatan in Helsingborg. Until just last spring, this shop, with its turn of the century brass coffee urns, mahogany and mirrors was still dispensing coffee.

Zoegas cafe
Image from article by Anette Rantala, “Kaffets hogborg till salu” in HD, Feb 25, 2015

In the early 20th century the second generation of the family developed the company and Zoegas Kaffee grew to become market-leaders in Sweden. This was very much a success story—of an immigrant with an unusual idea, and of the family who carried it on. Rudolf, Maria and John’s son, now ran the business. With locally-roasted high quality coffee production, the company was becoming very profitable.

Sometime in the 1940s, the company seems to have purchased the first of its brown-toned  rugs from the Märta Måås Fjetterström studio. This one was designed by the founder of the studio herself. It is one of her most popular designs called “Bruna Heden,” designed in 1931and woven before 1942. I don’t know what room this occupied in the Zoegas offices, but its size of 8.5 x11.5 feet suggests that it was used in a personal office rather than a conference room. Perhaps this was bought when Thelma, Rudolf’s daughter joined the company in 1942, or perhaps it was for Rudolf’s own office.

MMF Zoegas Brona Heden
(Märta Måås-Fjetterström), Flat weave (rölakan),”Bruna heden,”(Brown Heather) 350,5 x 259,5 cm. Signed MMF, Designed in 1931;woven before 1942. Bukowskis Spring Modern Auction Stockholm 572, 2013, object #687

Over the next 30 years, the firm acquired seven more pieces from the MMF atelier. It seems that Zoegas Coffee commissioned these rugs from the nearby MMF atelier, specifically requesting a brown tonality in the rug styles they chose. I’ll look at the other rugs which Zoegas acquired in the next post.  Coffee, anyone?


Bukowskis Spring Modern Auction Stockholm 572, 2013, online catalog.

Moller, Vigo Sten, En bok om Barbro Nilsson, Bokverlaget Trevi, Stockholm, 1977.

Rantala, Anette, “The Coffee Stronghold for sale” in Helsingborgs Dagbladet, Feb 25, 2015égas_kaffe

Please Reference as follows:

Whidden, Anne, “Cofee and –Rugs??,” theswedishrugblog (November 4, 2015);
http://; accessed (month/day/year)

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