15 December 2021

Samsas in Stockholm City Hall

When the world is seated in front of the TV on 10 December to see and hear this year’s Nobel Prize laureates being interviewed in the City Hall, the scholars will settle down in Carl Malmsten’s sofa Samsas. But, just like last year, due to the pandemic, the interviewees will be representatives from the different academies and committees.

During more normal years, the laureates have a tight programme. After the solemn ceremony in Stockholm’s Concert Hall, around 5.30 p.m., they move on to the City Hall. Then, Swedish Television has around one hour for interviews before dinner is served at 7 p.m.

Niklas Wollheim is a scenographer and has for many years been engaged by Swedish Television to design sofas for morning shows and compose interiors for election night coverage, etc. For the Nobel Foundation, he has now put together the interior for the prize ceremony, which this year is held in the Blue Hall where the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra plays and members of the different academies present the prize winners and explain their motivations. 

And for Swedish Television he has created the more intimate environment where the interviews take place. As in previous years, the presenters include Cecilia Gralde, Jessika Gedin, Victoria Dyring and Pernilla Månsson Colt. When the interviews are over and dinner is served, the talks are subtitled and broadcast during the evening. The same day, interviews are carried out with the Nobel Prize laureates at Swedish embassies and consulates in their home countries, and these are also broadcast in the evening.

In 2019,a blue and white striped Samsas was used together with a dark grey Samsas armchair.

“I thought Samsas was very suitable when we set out five or six years ago”, says Niklas Wollheim. “Carl Malmsten has designed many pieces of furniture in the City Hall. Some years we use a sofa and an armchair. This year there will be two sofas, one white and one pink.”

This year’s stage set for broadcasting on Swedish Television.

Both the pink two-seater Samsas and the white Runda Samsas are made by O.H. Sjögren.

The family business O.H. Sjögren in Tranås has been producing Samsas for more than 60 years. The model is based on the armchair that Carl Malmsten designed for the first row at Stockholm Concert Hall in 1923. The armchair was simplified and produced for a few years and later re-emerged in 1960 as Samsas. This time further simplified and improved.

The approach is typical for Malmsten: Lovingly, he reworked his favourites. As interior designer Lena Larsson, herself a pupil of  Malmsten, wrote: ”In fact, CM was designing the same furniture throughout his life. Especially upholstered seating. It was refined, simplified, worked in different types of wood, with different finishes. But it stood firmly on its legs: a timeless Malmsten. He believed in the principle of slow ripening.”


Text: Dan Gordan