23 September 2021
In early summer, Carl Malmsten’s pleasing display cabinet Jönköping met its first customers. The buyers are two young couples who, in the shop Malmstenbutiken, discovered the beauty of the simple Shaker-style design coupled with an elegant and exclusive finish.
The cabinet was designed by Carl Malmsten in 1956 in collaboration with the interior designer Eyvind Beckman. It was made for Jönköping County Museum for the display of artefacts, but was only recently brought into production and is now part of the new Archive Collection.
”It has such a fine construction”, says cabinet maker Martin Altwegg. The glass is fixed in a groove, without any nails or screws. The doors on the sides give a solid glass display front. The leg stand is held together with pegs, which means the cabinet can be assembled without fixings.
In addition to the first prototype, two cabinets have been ordered. One has recently been delivered and the other is in the finishing stages. They are made by Martin in his workshop in Sandemar old school, where he and the family live. It takes him at least 50 hours to make a cabinet. So far, they have been made in birch, but he is considering using other types of wood.
Developing prototypes for Carl Malmsten and ensuring that the furniture made by the different licensed manufacturers maintain high quality requires solid knowledge both in the craft of cabinet making and industrial production technology. And a good eye for design.
Martin Altwegg is cut out for the job.
In spring 2001, Martin together with his classmates became the first ever students to gain an academic degree in furniture making in Sweden (and perhaps in the world). This, since Malmstensskolan became a part of Linköping University and the course changed from two to three years. When Martin, who was born in Switzerland, had finished his journeyman’s masterpiece he returned to Zürich for four years study in industrial design.
Today, Martin lives in the old school together with Lilian de Souza and their three children, and has been teaching at Malmstens Linköping University for ten years. He also runs his own joinery with Malmsten, Svenskt tenn and Källemo as clients. In addition, Martin and Lilian have their own brand Ateljé Sandemar, with a first collection produced in collaboration with designer David Ericsson.
”When working with Malmsten furniture, I naturally start with the original drawing. But I also have to investigate the possibilities of adapting it to modern production methods to ensure that manufacturing at the selected furniture companies is efficient”, he says.
This thus becomes quality control as well as an aid for the manufacturers. A joint process. And all changes are carefully documented.
”All pieces of furniture should breathe quality, that is the be-all and end-all”, says Martin. I want to see a distinct form and good surface finish. The material must be of high quality and carefully chosen.”
“This may sound obvious, but is not as easy when talking about joinery largely linked to industrial production”, he explains.
”The end result is to produce furniture of very high quality. And that Malmsten furniture from different manufacturers should blend, speak the same language, when they stand together in a home”.
The crafting of the exclusive Jönköping cabinet has been left entirely to Martin by the Siv and Carl Malmsten Foundation.