9 August 2022

Jackpot for Joakim and Masur

The secretaire was a compact-living piece of furniture of its time; a smart mix of storage and desk. The word comes from the French secretaire, meaning secretive. And, needless to say, Joakim Lindman’s advanced journeyman’s piece from Malmstens Linköping University contains a secret compartment.

Joakim Lindman graduated from the furniture cabinetmaking programme in the spring, and for his exam project he was looking for a model of an older piece of furniture to make.

– I browsed through all the books with Carl Malmsten furniture. But in the end, I became captivated by a photo that I found in an old folder at school. It turned out not to be a piece by Carl Malmsten, but by his son Vidar Malmsten.

There was something about Masur that appealed to him.

Joakim Lindman’s journeyman test, the secretary Masur.

– It was both about the design and the level of difficulty. An exam piece should be ambitious and challenging, but I could not have imagined that Masur would be that hard to make.

The photo was from 1947, which is presumably the year in which the secretaire was first made. In the Carl Malmsten Archives, the design does not turn up until 1953/54 when it was listed as  a  ”stock item”. This meant that although no one had bought it so far, it was available to order.

In 1957 the piece returns in the archives, but without veneering. The client this time was the architect Torsten Westman, subsequently one of the brains behind the Stockholm city transformation. The name had then been changed to ”Sverker”.

When Joakim found the piece of furniture for his project, he didn’t know who Vidar Malmsten was, but now thinks you can see how father and son differ in their designs.

– Carl’s pieces are more restrained, while Vidar’s are playful and adventurous.

Joakim Lindman in the workshop.

Joakim worked on the secretaire all spring, finally totalling up 400 hours of close combat in the workshop. Masur is made from flame birch and completely parqueted with vivid masur birch, where large amounts of small pieces of veneer make up a large, striking pattern. The parquetry is fully symmetric on all sides, with pieces that match all the way around.

The desk lid is parqueted with a continuing pattern even on the inside. And just like the secretaires we know, developed in France in the 1730s, this piece offers both a writing surface and storage. Masur has no less than eleven drawers, as well as the aforementioned secret compartment.

The secretary Masur, with flap and drawers.

The exact placement of the pieces of veneer is marked on the drawing, but the appearance and direction of the thin wooden sections are up to Joakim to decide, something he appreciated. And on his own drawing of the piece, which is part of all exam work, he has left the same opportunity of a personal finish.

The many hours at the bench also gave the very best possible result. The examining committee awarded the journeyman’s piece 5.0 and a large silver medal, the highest grade a piece of furniture can receive.

This summer, the Masur secretaire has been shown in an exhibition on Vidar Malmsten at Kulturgatan in Bodafors, and is now for sale. Wanted: an interested buyer with a genuine feeling for quality and a fat wallet.

Text: Dan Gordan

Further reading:
Kulturgatan Bodafors
Malmstens Linköpings University
More pictures on Joakim Lindmans Instagram