7 December 2018

Julia ♥ Widemar

“We have interpreted and adjusted so that the details feel consistent and right for the eye” says Julia Greek.

She is a cabinet maker who received the top grade of 5.0 and a Grand Silver award for her exam piece at Malmstens a few years ago. A grade and honour given only to a very few. At that time, she had made a luxury drinks table in elm. Today, Julia is employed in the workshop at Stolab in Smålandsstenar where she has been working on an ambitious project this autumn and winter to recreate Carl Malmsten’s armchair Widemar.

“It is a complex and advanced piece of furniture with many crafted details. I interpreted the hand drawn drawing from 1942 and converted it into computer generated 3D model. Then we compared this with an old Widemar chair that we borrowed from the Siv and Carl Malmsten Memorial Foundation”, Julia explains.

The first prototype was ready in October and was scrutinised by an expert appointed by the foundation – Martin Altwegg, a cabinet maker and senior lecturer at Malmstens. After some adjustments, Julia has been involved in the making of 15 chairs for a first series. Both Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines and hand planes came into use.

“Getting the top piece and armrest to run in a continuous form, a beautiful line which frames the chair, has been a challenge. It is about subtle details, but, oh-so-important for the whole!

Stolab’s managing director Martin Johansson regards Julia Greek as a resource that he hopes to be able to keep. He wants her to pass on her extraordinary knowledge, learnt on journeys and work experience as an apprentice in workshops in England and Denmark, to the other, also highly skilled, cabinet makers in the factory.

The chair got its name – Widemar – after the lawyer and politician Ingrid Gärde Widemar (1912-2009), who commissioned it from Carl Malmsten. The model was also available as a chair without arms and a sofa, designed a few years later. In 1968, Ingrid Gärde Widemar became the first woman to be appointed Justice of the Supreme Court of Sweden. As a politician for the Liberal party, she was a member of the Swedish Riksdag for 19 years, where she was strongly committed to issues of equality. Among other things, she drew attention to how difficult it was for women to gain employment in the government, and she worked for separate taxation and for the right of married women to keep their own surname.