“He wanted to carve out a new humanity and a better world”, wrote Eric Wennerholm, friend, lawyer and writer in the book ‘Carl Malmsten hel och hållen’ (Carl Malmsten entirely, Swedish only) (1969). With these words, he perfectly encapsulated the craftsman’s life and ethos.
Carl Malmsten was a towering cultural figure in 20th century Sweden and today, more than a century later, his designs live on in practically every Swedish home. Already, even a hundred years ago, his ideas and thoughts on artistic styles and interior were making themselves felt in both the domestic and public realms, as well as in the wider public debate of the day.
The furniture designer’s philosophy on the importance of craftsmanship spread far and wide thanks to his educational activities. Even though some projects never made it beyond the planning stages, the schools founded by Carl Malmsten are still highly regarded to this day.
Through books and lectures, Carl Malmsten advocated alternative teaching methods that aimed to supplement, enrich and develop the individual’s ability to train all senses in harmony with the work of their hands. His aim was to teach how to create emotionally stirring art using nothing but bare hands and simple hand tools. Today, while his approach has almost faded away due to staggeringly fast technological development void of humanistic values, some art history experts believe that we are on the cusp of a paradigm shift. Digitalisation must go hand in hand with a fresh insight into the importance of craftsmanship; unlocking the potential of our hands in the service of creation.
The guardian of Carl Malmsten’s cultural legacy is the Siv and Carl Malmsten Memorial Foundation.