Founded in Stockholm in 2002, TAF Studio is run by Gabriella Lenke and Mattias Ståhlbom. The duo are interior designers and product concept designers, created the shelf Museum NM&.045 and the Museum Sidetable for String Furniture.
Chasing the perfect balance
Gabriella Lenke and Mattias Ståhlbom are free thinkers. In their work with interiors and product design they continually challenge traditional definitions.
Asked to describe the work of TAF Studio, they speak of “spatial design.” It’s a good description of the studio’s approach to projects.
“The spatial thinking and the products cross-fertilise each other,” says Gabriella.
As an example, she mentions Museum NM&.045 – the shelf designed by TAF Studio for Sweden’s Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, which is produced and sold by String Furniture.
“Nationalmuseum went through a monumental metamorphosis before reopening in 2018,” says Mattias. “In collaboration with four other agencies, we won the assignment to design the interior of the museum’s restaurant and its adjoining café.”
They created new designs for every part of the interior. In addition, they wanted everything to be produced in Sweden or Scandinavia. The result was not only a new interior but a range of new products, each made for a specific purpose.
One of the museum’s requirements was that the interior should make room for selected small objects from the collection. The result was a console shelf named NM&.045 that would later be put into production by String Furniture. Besides being both beautiful and easily placed with its hidden attachment, the delicately shaped construction in aluminum and steel makes the shelf exceptionally strong.
“The shelf had to hold everything from vases to figurines and sculptures,” says Gabriella. “We wanted to create the feeling that the museum wall reaches out toward you, like the palm of a hand presenting the art.”
Like all good ideas the thought seems natural, looking in the rear-view mirror. But how was it conceived?
“It was essential that the shelf should work as an unobtrusive support to the art. Even so, we wanted to give it a distinctive identity.”
The success of Museum NM&.045 inspired TAF Studio to create the free-standing, height-adjustable Museum Sidetable, introduced by String Furniture in 2020.
Despite its name, the Museum Sidetable didn’t originate from Nationalmuseum, but at the Swedish interior design store Svenskt Tenn.
One of the Sweden’s most influential design stores, Svenskt Tenn is internationally acclaimed for the work of Josef Frank, who fled Austria and moved to Sweden in the 1930s. The furniture and furnishings he created are today considered iconic pieces of Swedish Modern design.
When TAF Studios was invited to create an exhibition in the store, they decided to highlight Frank’s floral fabrics, using fresh cut flowers and green plants.
“Our vision included having tables with big vases filled with flowers,” says Mattias. “So we needed a strong table, with a balanced character that wouldn’t outshine the objects put upon it.”
This is where TAF Studio’s experience from the Nationalmuseum project came in handy. Soon the Museum Sidetable was born. Its rectangular, die cast aluminum top has softly rounded corners, and the base provides stability without being too heavy to move when necessary. An I-beam connects the two horizontal elements, making the sidetable rigid enough not to twist due to a heavy load. It also makes a perfect central pillar for the table top, which is adjustable between 32 and 73 centimetres.
“A fairly small table with adjustable height can be used in numerous ways,” says Gabriella. “It can serve as a pedestal for beautiful objects, an extra table by the sofa, or a bedside table that’s just right for putting a cup of tea and something to read within perfect reach. Since the post isn’t centred, you can slide the base in under the bed so the upper surface can be right by your side.”
Gabriella and Mattias are proud to have created designs that dovetail with the legacy of String Furniture – high quality pieces that are easy to ship and simple to assemble.
The String shelf system earned a place in the Nationalmuseum’s collection many years ago, and has been part of countless exhibitions ever since. It seems appropriate that Museum NM&.045 – the youngster member of the String Furniture family – has already been selected twice by the museum. Once as an example of excellent contemporary design, but also as an important part of the interior of the museum’s restaurant and café. There it reaches out like the palm of a hand to present pieces of art to visitors from all over the world.