It all started in 1898, when the cabinet-maker Karl Andersson started producing items of everyday furniture in the little village of Berghem, between the towns of Huskvarna and Gränna, in the south of Sweden. In the early years, he worked as a journeyman and later as a fully qualified master cabinet-maker in Stockholm and Jönköping. When he later returned to Berghem, he converted a room in his parent’s home into a workshop. His equipment was simple. An incorrigible optimist, armed with no more than a planing bench, a bow saw, a trying plane and a modest collection of smaller tools, he started producing writing cabinets, beds, sofas, tables and chairs for anyone who needed them.
Karl Andersson was known for his creativity, boundless enthusiasm and dynamism, a man who saw his ideas through to completion. He solemnly undertook to manufacture nothing but "well-made furniture, designed to last". Before long he had earned himself the reputation of being "the finest – albeit the most expensive – craftsman in the district". Over the years Karl and his wife, Ida, were blessed with five sons and six daughters, also taking in a foster son. One by one, four of the five boys became involved in their father’s business and each was assigned his own area of responsibility. Karl Andersson’s advice to his sons was straightforward: "Stick together boys, and things will go well for you." In 1944, they formed the limited company Karl Andersson & Söner.
The company grew, and with it the ethos of traditional craftsmanship and the reputation for the highest quality, now translated to meet the demands of modern, large-scale industrial production. Today the vision nurtured by Karl Andersson and his sons remains as relevant as ever. High quality, good function and integrity of form are still the hallmarks of the firm’s products. And wood continues to play a prominent role – now most often in the form of the veneered blockboard that we produce in-house, or solid wood. Since 2000, we have also used steel in some of our furniture.
Over the years, our collaboration with several designers has proved highly successful. Many items of furniture from Karl Andersson & Söner have become classics. Some even feature in the collections of the Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum) in Stockholm. In the late 1940s, Professor Carl Malmsten designed the Visingsö and Vapensmeden furniture series for us. A few years later, in 1955, the Danish architect Børge Mogensen designed the Øresund series of tables, cabinets and chairs. (It was at this point that Karl Andersson & Söner initiated industrial production of blockboard and veneer.) The Øresund series is still produced today – and feels as up-to-date now as it did back in the 1950s.
In 1972, Karl Andersson’s youngest son, Göran Malmvall, created the KA72 series of cabinets. Today, these cabinets are found not only in homes and offices, but also in embassies around the world. At the close of the 20th century, Ulla Christiansson introduced elements of steel into our wooden furniture. Her Trippo series, introduced in 2000, features tables with slender steel legs. At the same time, Tony Almén and Peter Gest were working on what was to become our 2K cabinet, also incorporating elements of steel. The latest addition to our series of tables came in 2006, with the Chamfer series designed by Mattias Ståhlbom and Daniel Franzén.
In 1998 it was one hundred years since Karl Andersson began to make “well-made furniture, designed to last”. The centenary was celebrated with a major exhibition at the
Museum in Jönköping and an unforgettable royal occasion when King Carl XVI Gustaf visited our factory in Huskvarna and ate lunch together with all our employees and invited guests. In 2003 we made further extensions to the Huskvarna production plant and have since concentrated all our manufacturing operations here.
Together with SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, we have been involved in a number of development projects in Africa, South America and
India over the years. In the early 1980s we ran courses in Huskvarna for a dozen or so aspiring cabinet-makers from
Botswana. Some years later we helped to start a furniture and carpentry factory in Mbeya in south-west
Tanzania. We were on site there for six months to provide assistance with everything from the purchase and installation of all the factory’s machines and equipment to training the workers and overseeing the start of manufacturing operations. Between 1995 and 1997 we trained several Chileans from the Muebles Sur factory in
Santiago. This led subsequently to the factory manufacturing some of our series of furniture under licence for a number of years. From 1999 to 2001 we trained eight people from Living Room Lifestyle in
Bombay and from Goa in
India in corporate management techniques, marketing, design and manufacturing.
The first time we took part in the major international furniture fair in
Milan, Salone Internazionale del Mobile, was in 2002. Since then we have exhibited there every year. In addition, we have, of course, been a regular exhibitor at the Stockholm Furniture Fair every February since 2000. In the autumn we usually exhibit at the Orgatec Office Furnishing Fair in Cologne, or at the Habitare Furniture and Interior Decoration Fair in Helsinki. Each of these fairs is held every other year.
Over the course of the years we have received many awards and prizes for our furniture. What used to be known as the Excellent Swedish Design award was presented for our cabinet Hommage Josef Frank (1986): an example of this cabinet was purchased by the Nordiska Museet, Sweden’s largest museum of cultural history, and can today be seen in the museum’s collection. Our tables Tema and KvadratiKvadrat (1987), Prima Vista (1988), Kaskad (1993), Kazetti Office (1997) and Trio (1999) also received the Excellent Swedish Design award, as did the Katell series of seating furniture (1997). In addition, three of our tables – Brygga (2005), Chamfer (2006) and Newton (2010) – have received Swedish fashion and design magazine, Elle Interiör’s “Furnishing of the Year” award. The Newton table also received the Nordic Design Prize in 2009. In the same year, 2009, our Thinner table received the prestigious, “Design S/Swedish Design Award”, the latest design award from Svensk Form (the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design).
In 2009 we began to manufacture products for a new area of the range, KA Small. First out was the ingenious little wall-mounted peg, Piniwini, that works like a minimalistic bookshelf. Piniwini attracted a huge amount of attention at the Milan Fair. Today “small by KARL ANDERSSON & SÖNER” comprises a selection of small but smart products such as Chess, FlipFlop, Knob and ponoq, all of which are designed to make everyday life a little simpler and a lot more fun. On the strength of these designs, in 2010 we took part for the first time in the Formex trade fair for interior design, decoration and giftware.
Today Karl Andersson & Söner is managed by Karl Andersson’s great grandchildren, Maria, Sara and Andreas Wadskog. You will find us in Huskvarna, in the south of Sweden, where we have manufacturing facilities, offices and showrooms. In all, there are some 30 people working at Karl Andersson & Söner with development and production, closely following the journey of every product from planks and boards to a beautiful, fully finished item of furniture. To help us, we have an expert sales team and a fantastic workforce in the factory, with men and women who make sure that Karl Andersson & Söner maintains its excellent reputation for supplying classic, high-quality wooden furnishings. That’s why, even today, our little factory in Huskvarna continues to produce “well-made furniture, designed to last” – and now exports it to every corner of the globe.
Hand-made furniture from Huskvarna. Since 1898.