The Architect couple Nisse Strinning (1917-2006) and Kajsa Strinning (1922-2017) debuted as designers with a humble plate rack using steel wire, a technique that would be refined over the years. In 1949, they created a Scandinavian design classic when the String® shelf won the Bonnier Folk Library competition. A few years later, in 1954, String® earned them their first international design prize, a gold medal at the Milan Triennial. As recently as 2020, String® was awarded the Long Life Design award in Japan. Nisse Strinning kept on working until his death in 2006 at the age of 89. His last design was String® Pocket, which was launched by String Furniture in 2005.
The design couple behind String® - a shelf that can be endlessly reinvented
Nisse Strinning was an architect and an inventor. He had an eye for spotting people’s needs and the imagination to find solutions to their problems. The hassles of everyday life that went unnoticed by other designers were captivating challenges for Nisse. He was also impatient. Few of his projects would have been realised without his partner and wife Kajsa. She ensured the ideas were deeply explored, refined and documented in construction drawings. Her role was by no means less important than her husband’s. Through their career the Strinnings designed things that made life easier, less messy and more practical, including plate racks, wire trays, and trash bag holders. Their belief that form should always follow function explains why many of their creations are considered iconic today.
In 1949 the Bonnier publishing company and their popular Bonnier Folk Library series announced a competition to design a bookshelf, the embryo of String® was already beginning to form in Nisse Strinning’s mind. The competition rules stated that the new bookshelf should be affordable and easy to ship and assemble. Clearly the publishing company wanted something that would be suitable in most Swedish homes. The competition provided a creative incentive for Kajsa and Nisse. Before entering the contest, they fine-tuned their shelf to meet not only the jury’s standards, but also their own, which were even tougher. The String® shelf won, and became an instant success. In parallel, the Strinnings continued to develop the idea, and soon String® was a complete system with an array of functional elements and accessories. More than 70 years later, String® remains one of Sweden’s biggest selling and most loved designs, as well as being internationally acclaimed.
Following a period when String® was out of production, the Strinnings sold the manufacturing rights to newly started String Furniture. String® System was put in production again, and its development continued. Today the system consists of more pieces than ever. It can be configured to suit living rooms, kitchens or bathrooms, and is just as much at home in a student flat as a mansion. Colours and materials are based on a palette, updated yearly with new options, further increasing the number of configurations. We’ve recently added the possibility of using your String® System outdoors, all year round. Because the system’s measurements haven’t changed since 1949, older elements fit with brand new ones. All the possible combinations make it fun to play and try out different ideas. The secondhand market constantly seems to hunger for Strings of any age, colour or material.
String® often grows along with a family. Parents might buy the smallest String® shelf, String® Pocket, for their toddler’s first room. Then it is extended and reconfigured over the years, as the children grow up, until they finally move out – taking String® with them to their new home. String® is still made in Sweden, adhering to high quality standards and sustainability requirements. Nisse and Kajsa Strinning continued to invent new furniture until Nisse died in 2006. Many of these designs were a great success, although none of them were as appreciated as String® – or ”the damned shelf” as Nisse lovingly called it. As if its creators were almost a little jealous of their own offspring’s great success.