The Spirit of Estrid Ericson and Josef Frank is still preserved by Svenskt Tenn
In October 1924, Svenskt Tenn opens its doors on Smålandsgatan in Stockholm. Only thirty years old, Estrid Ericson, the art teacher from Hjo, invests the small inheritance she has just received from her father in her company.
TOGETHER WITH THE ESTABLISHED pewter artist Nils Fougstedt, Estrid Ericson wanted to offer modern pewter objects at reasonable prices. They produced these themselves in the little workshop behind the store. Pewter quickly became one of the most exciting materials of the era, competing with the new glass and ceramics of the time than with metals such as silver and silver plating. Svenskt Tenn quickly gained recognition as an established brand of quality, and established a name for itself. In 1925, it received a gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris.
AFTER JUST A FEW YEARS, the name Svenskt Tenn had become misleading, as Estrid Ericson’s interest in interior design is what now dominates the company. Three years on, the store moves to larger premises on Strandvägen, where it is still located today. By the early 1930s, Svenskt Tenn has gained recognition as the most fashionable interior design store in Stockholm. Estrid Ericson commissions the Swedish functionalist architects Uno Åhrén and Björn Trägårdh as Svenskt Tenn’s unique range of furniture and interior designs take form. Estrid Ericson’s sense of beauty and quality evolve in tact with her wanderlust, and shopping expeditions take her to North and South America, England, France and Italy.
In 1932, Estrid Ericson orders the first furniture from the already well-established Austrian architect Josef Frank, and the collaboration intensifies rapidly. She hires Josef Frank in 1934, when he fled the burgeoning nazism in Austria for Sweden together with his Swedish wife.
In 1979, Ann Wall takes over the role as Managing Director and it is she who transforms Svenskt Tenn into the well managed and profitable business it is today. It is under Ann Wall’s leadership that the company receives the radical modernization that it sorely needs. Estrid Ericson had run the company with antiquated administrative and financial systems and procedures. A careful renewal of the product range was coordinated with window displays and marketing. Collaborations with selected new designers as well as art and design schools are established.
In 1999 Ann Wall retired after 20 years as Managing Director. The Svenskt Tenn’s owners, The Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation, establishes the Ann Wall Design Prize in her name. The prize is part of Svenskt Tenn’s new business concept “to preserve the spirit of Estrid Ericson and Josef Frank in a modern form.”