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Design history in Hjo

Estrid Ericson and Svensk Tenn

Estrid Ericson is a 20th century design icon and the founder of Firma Svenskt Tenn. She was born in Öregrund on 16 September 1894, but moved with her family to Hjo just a month after she was born. Stadskällaren no. 31 B was the address from which Estrid’s father, Adolf, started and ran the family business, the Hotell Royal.    

In the hotel environment at “Rullan”, the popular name of the Hotell Royal, Estrid grew up with her family: her mother, father and three sisters, Elsa, Stina and Irma and her brothers Sven and Bele. She eventually started going to school in what is now the Kulturkvarteret, which houses the exhibition about her and Svenskt Tenn. She got her school leaving certificate here and later worked here for a term as a drawing teacher. However, in spring 1924, aged just 30, she inherited a small sum of money from her father. She used this as start-up capital for what would be her internationally famous interior design company. She left Hjo for Stockholm to found Firma Svenskt Tenn along with sculptor Nils Fougstedt. They opened their first shop that year on Smålandsgatan in the capital. Thanks to her business, and her ability to get to know the most renowned architects and artists of her time, Estrid helped lay the foundations of modern Swedish design.

Estrid Ericson, Josef Frank and Accidentism
“I started Svenskt Tenn naively and rather impractically. I was dependent on the good tastes of an uncertain tomorrow.” This is what Estrid wrote some years after starting Svenskt Tenn. In 1934, 10 years after founding the company, she took on Austrian architect and designer Josef Frank, leading to one of the most successful collaborations in design history, a collaboration that would lead to a timeless interior style known as “Accidentism”. It became an international style that went on to outlive them both.

Hjo’s memorial to Estrid
Estrid Ericson died in 1981, and is buried in Hjo together with her husband, Sigfrid. You can visit her memorial on Hamngatan, outside the hotel once run by her family (there are now several private residences in the Hotell Royal building). 

 

Visit the Estrid Ericson and Firma Svenskt Tenn exhibition
The Estrid Ericson and Svenskt Tenn exhibition, on display in the Kulturkvarteret, lets you find out more about Estrid’s youth in Hjo, how she started Svenskt Tenn and her life-long collaboration with Josef Frank. The exhibition is free to visit.