10 November 2021

Blå porten

“We produce more Lilla Åland chairs than ever before”, says a satisfied Martin Johansson, CEO and owner of  Stolab.

The ultimate spindle-back chair was born during a woodcrafting course that Carl Malmsten held with his pupils on Åland in 1939. In the old church in Finström he found a hand-carved spindle-back chair where  “the curved verve of the seat and the caressing, backside-friendly recess” took him by storm. His assistant Sven Erik Fryklund took measurements and the final product was developed back at the factory. Three years later, production of Lilla Åland became a reality.

”This year, we are talking about almost 25,000 chairs, including the armchair and infant chair. And the growth rate is strong”, Martin Johansson explains.

The majority of people who buy the chair, which celebrates its 80th anniversary next year, are private individuals. But public spaces are also often furnished with Lilla Åland. Through Yllw interior services, Stolab has delivered almost 400 chairs for the 177 apartments in the newly opened Biz Apartment hotel in Bromma.

Lilla Åland is even more visible at the re-opened restaurant Blå Porten at Liljevalchs. As the art gallery on Djurgården was being renovated and extended,  the City of Stockholm took the opportunity to restore the adjacent restaurant/cafe, just as historical as Liljevalchs – both opened in the summer of 1916. During the restoration, the ceiling was cleaned to reveal original paintings. The walls  glow in Pompeian red, a colour which became popular in the 1920s and recurs in the facades of the art gallery.

The restaurant is furnished with Carl Malmsten classics. Around 200 Lilla Åland chairs are in place. Some are painted in Stolab’s midnight blue colour, but most are in a custom-made warm grey colour, created by the interior designer in charge, Richard Lindvall in collaboration with conservators.

“Up until now, I have worked mostly with minimalist style interiors, with a hard design language featuring a lot of metal and concrete. So Blå Porten was something completely new for me. It was important to meet the guest’s expectations of such classic surroundings, which is why I chose to use Swedish furniture only”.

“We have already received a lot of praise and people feel welcome”, says Richard Lindvall. And the quality of the furniture has to be the best, to accommodate around 2,000 guests per day.


In addition to the spindle-back chairs, Richard Lindvall selected three tables from Tre Sekel, among them a few Visingsö by Carl Malmsten. The Italian style garden contains furniture from Byarums Bruk and Guteform.

Thus, Blå Porten, with the aid of Carl Malmsten, has regained its position as a destination and oasis for all those strolling around Djurgården even in our time.

Text: Dan Gordan