During the period of modernism, the worlds of architecture and designere stilleavily dominated by men. For a woman to step onto the stage and take charge was something quite unusual and, in the public perception of it, downright daring, even audacious as a career move in these areas. Beginning in the mid-1920s, however, the Swedish drawing teacher and pewter artist Estrid Ericson (1894–1981) did just that, setting on a path to become one of the true pioneers of women’s entrepreneurship in the field of interior decoration andesign in the country. The company she set up, Svenskt Tenn, developed into a comprehensive enterprise involved in design, production, import, retail sale and consultingtivities. Still in existence and active today, it has in the course of the last 15 years found for itself a new audience, attracted by Estrid Ericson’s hallmark design style combining close attention to detail and an elegant, cosmopolitan feel.
Mistress of Modern
In retrospect, it is easy to see Estrid Ericson as one of the key figures to have influenced Swedish interior decoration and design in the 20th century. Her way of integrating modernism’s simplicity with richly patterned textiles and decorative objects continues, however, to serve as a source of inspiration for many in our time, too. She boldly mixed new with old, and filled rooms with carefully selected objects originating from all corners of the globe. The resulting style found resonance among many, and not only in Sweden. In 1939, the same year that Svenskt Tenn attracted considerable attention at the World Exhibition in New York, the U.S. American magazine House and Garden termed Estrid Ericson “Mistress of Modern,” in recognition of her role as direction setter in the field.
This exhibition explores both Estrid Ericson’s early work and activities, beginning with the founding of Svenskt Tenn in 1924, and her subsequent collaboration with the architect Josef Frank, a period today better and more widely known among design aficionados and the broader public. The objects shown are, for the most part, on loan from the archives of Svenskt Tenn. The exhibition also includes examples of Estrid Ericson’s signature table settings. In the hallway on the first floor of the museum a smaller satellite exhibition is on view with which the Röhsska Museum wishes to acknowledge other Swedish women who in their work have succeeded in uniting design and entrepreneurship.
The exhibition is in collaboration with Svenskt Tenn.