string furniture


more than a flash of genius

certain things become so strongly associated with an era that they become timeless. this is certainly true of nils strinning’s shelf system, string®, which was designed in 1949. it may seem strange that something as simple and humble as this little dainty light shelf with its thin side panels has become one of the twentieth century’s foremost design icons.

the reasons are several; the thin packaging is simple and cheap to transport, the shelf is easy to assemble, the shelves can be quickly repositioned, shelves of various depths can be combined and books are held in place by the side panels, it is stable and can be extended in all directions. whether the wall surface is large or small string® is functional. it’s the side panel which gives string® its character. elegant and clean-limbed are the coloured threads, a slender ”ladder” ascending the wall, ingenious, variable, flexible… it’s not strange that post-war europeans, who were thirsting for freedom, adored string®. particularly the young, those who had begun to be called teenagers.

if it hadn’t been for a competition announced by sweden’s largest publishing house, bonnier, in 1949 it would probably not have been set into production. bonnier realised that if the swedish people were to begin purchasing books they would have to have somewhere to keep them. the shelf was to be affordable, simple to transport and easy to assemble. just such a shelf had existed in the thoughts of nils strinning. the competition became a reason to put thought into action and he won, of course, first prize.

everything has a prehistory and this one is about laziness and wire. drying dishes was a time-consuming enterprise before the days of the dishwasher. air drying is more hygienic than using a dishcloth but then a practical and orderly dish rack is required. the elfa dish rack became nils strinning’s first successful invention in 1946. three years later, together with the producer arne lydmar, he had solved the problem of how to coat the steel wire with plastic, yes, nils strinning is the father of the entire elfa-system with his wire baskets which are to be found in most wardrobes today, like the wore baskets on the kitchen sink cover. nothing is too modest that it can’t be made better. this is how you could summarise nils strinning’s view on life. through him the inventors demand for function is combined with the aesthetician’s feeling for proportion and detail.

kerstin wickman, professor of design and handcraft history, the university college of arts, crafts & design, stockholm

8 december. nisse strinning born in kramfors in västernorrland.

27th january. kajsa strinning born in svanholm in västerbotten.

Among the 194 entries submitted from around the world, string is crowned winner of Bonnier's bookshelf competition. In the same year string is founded.

string shelves are ordered for the offices in the newly built UN building in NYC.

string plex is launched.

string releases the standalone string shelf. Nils never likes it.

string is awarded the gold medal at the Triennale in Milan.

string exhibits at H55 in Helsingborg – the start of “Swedish Design”.

Deutsche String GmbH is founded.

In Colombia, string is paid for shelf deliveries in emeralds.

The floor panel is launched.

string takes a number of plagiarists to court. The Supreme Court rules in string’s favor and the shelf is patented.

string continent is launched.

A new storage concept Tingoteket is launched but it never becomes a hit.

The string shelf is incorporated into the Swedish National Museum's design collection.

The bookshelf Kam by Nils Strinning is awarded “Excellent Swedish Design” by Svensk Form (Swedish Society of Crafts and Design).

Nils Strinning is awarded the "Classic Prize" and string’s computer shelf gets the “Excellent Swedish Design” award. Both prizes are awarded by Svensk Form.

An all-white string shelf is exhibited at H05 – 50 years after H55. Walnut, oak and solid black are launched the same year.

string pocket is unveiled at Form/Design Center in Malmö.

The string shelf is classified as a work of applied art under copyright law.

Artek celebrates 75 years - string is commissioned to produce a commemorative pocket in "Artek-gray".

string turns 60 and celebrates by letting Mats Theselius style a limited edition string pocket. The result is 600 numbered string pocket shelves in gold / rosewood.

Rebecka Tarschys’ book on string’s history "String Pocket" is published.

The collaboration with Björn Dahlström and Anna von Schewen results in a folding table.

string continues to work with Anna & Björn and the office range string works is presented for the first time.

Mats Theselius designs a stainless steel string pocket for the 10th anniversary.

winner the german design award 2016 - string® works office furniture collection.

metal shelf is launched along with accessories like hooks and rods for more flexible functionality.

Swedish Postal Service issues a stamp with a string shelf

You can also build your own string shelf with our app for iPad.