19 May 2021

Meet Hanna in the archive

Hanna Berndalen is used to the white cotton gloves. Both she and any visitors to the Carl Malmsten Archive must wear them before leafing and browsing through fragile drawings, photographs and documents together. Paper is a sensitive material, but can last forever – if it is kept in dry, cool conditions and handled with care.

For more than eleven years, the archivist Hanna Berndalen has guided researchers and private individuals, auction houses, journalists, authors and students from the Carl Malmsten schools among the documents in the rich archive. Visitors are often looking for details about specific pieces of furniture, but here are also drawings and information about major interior design commissions, correspondence and various documents relating to the schools he started, as well as articles for books and discussions he took part in.

– There are around 20,000 drawings in the archive, says Hanna. Some 12,000 are  in the scale 1:10 and the other 8,000 are in full format, scale 1:1. But we also know that quite a few drawings are missing, especially from the early years. In the carefully kept ledgers, all drawings are numbered, and that’s how we know which are missing.

The ledgers also include information about model names and customers. For example,  you can read that the charming armchair Redet was designed in 1936 for the professor N. Antoni. He wanted an armchair for his wife, who liked swinging her legs over one of the armrests. Hence the peculiar design with armrest to one side and the back more to the other. On the original drawing, the armchair is called  Rena Snurren (Delirious). It was then shown in flowery cretonne at the Carl Malmsten spring exhibition in the shop in 1937, and later the same year at the World Exposition in Paris.


And about the small 1950s armchair Caryngo, which was relaunched in 2018, we read on the drawing that ”Assembly of the stretcher and apron boards and their attachment to the frame and back legs will be dictated by Yngve Ekström, who will also be asked to oversee the details.” The model was the result of a collaborative effort by Carl Malmsten and Yngve Ekström, two of the greatest names within Swedish furniture design in the 1950s.

Then, as now, it is Yngve Ekström’ company Swedese which manufactures Caryngo – with the name inspired by the two designers’ Christian names.

Hanna Berndalen leads visitors to information such as this with a light and friendly hand, with or without white gloves. The archive is open every Friday. Visits can be made by appointment, and you can, of course, also phone or email.

When Hanna isn’t at the Carl Malmsten Archive in Dieselverkstaden in Nacka, she works as curator and business developer at the National Swedish Museums of Military History – SFHM.

– But I always keep an eye on Malmsten, since I have been secretary of the Siv & Carl Malmsten Memorial Foundation for many years.

Find more information about the archive here