Only a few steps away from the original store at Strandvägen 5, Svenskt Tenn recently opened a new furnishings studio. Building on the legacy of when founder Estrid Ericson offered designer Josef Frank a job at the Stockholm-based studio after he fled the growing anti-Semitism in Austria in the early 1930s, this new studio will be staffed by highly skilled tailors whom have recently fled to Sweden.
In 1924, Estrid Ericson used the inheritance from her father to establish her very own design studio, Svenskt Tenn. Specialising in pewter and offering modern pieces to reasonable prices, the studio quickly grew to be recognised both nationally and internationally. Over the years, Ericson and Svenskt Tenn slightly started shifting the focus from pewter pieces to interior design. During the same period, Jewish architect and designer Josef Frank fled the burgeoning Nazism in Austria and came to Sweden. Ericson, who admired the work of Frank and despised the growing intolerance offered Frank a job at Svenskt Tenn and thereby an opportunity for him to continue his exceptional design and pattern work. Frank’s colourful expression and Ericson’s entrepreneurial mindset proved to be an excellent combination. Together the duo created one of Sweden’s biggest and most successful design heritages and their combination of timeless and contemporary has inspired many.
History is now repeating itself as Svenskt Tenn recently opened their very own furnishings studio staffed by skilled craftsmen, all of whom have recently fled to Sweden. “This is a fine opportunity for us to absorb the skills of craftsmen who have found refuge in Sweden, just as Estrid Ericsson did with Josef Frank in the early 1930s,” said Maria Veerasamy, CEO of Svenskt Tenn.
The project, initiated by Svenskt Tenn and developed together with social entrepreneur Pia Lundström, clearly reflects their core value “commitment” and stretches further than just offering customers a desired service. All workers will be given the opportunity to study Swedish part-time hence, as Veerasamy puts it, they will “get an introduction both to the work itself and to the Swedish society”.
The studio, located on Strandvägen 57 in Stockholm, will be managed by professional tailor and dressmaker Andrea Bernström. The services offered will include made to measure cushions and drapes with details such as fringe bands and hand stitched rings, as well as other types of specialty sewing. Orders are taken in-store so UK-based customers will have to do with the exquisite traditional pieces available in the web shop for now.
While the project is an act of openness, it is also a way of utilising the unique and rare skillset that the tailors possess. Those skills are often more practical than theoretical so might not always be on record when entering Sweden as a refugee. Svenskt Tenn have always stated they want to be a counterpart to the losing of handcrafting skills and consider this project a natural way of continuing that work. With a focus on education and integration they are taking responsibility as a company while genuinely building on their heritage.