23 August 2022
A seemingly simple construction, but which in reality is both complex and rebellious. ”I have never seen anything like it”, says cabinetmaker Peter Hellqvist about the chair Lärka.
He was commissioned by the Siv and Carl Malmsten Memorial Foundation to make four copies, one of which was shown at this summer’s exhibition on the furniture designer and interior decorator Vidar Malmsten, at Kulturgatan in Bodafors.
”The rhythm and proportions are all but traditional”, Peter continues. ”It takes time for the eye to take in and understand.”
Nothing in this piece of furniture has been left to chance. It was designed for the anthroposophical Solbergahemmet in Järna, where Vidar Malmsten was in charge of the interiors in 1968.
Peter believes the design and construction to be rebellious, which in his interpretation mean it must not be plain.
He explains that both seat and back must have character and for these he chose pine with vivid markings from his native area in Västra Götaland. Legs and apron, on the other hand, should have a calmer expression in his opinion, and the pine for these parts comes from the Vimmerby area. This creates a deliberate contrast in the piece of furniture.
Part of the rebellious expression is found in the way the legs meet the floor in an almost animalistic way. And there is a joint in the apron at the front part of the seat which Peter describes as ”insanely difficult”.
Experimenting with the grain of the wood is natural for a cabinetmaker, and Peter has ensured to reverse the grain on the front legs so that the viewer experiences symmetry.
The four chairs he has so carefully created are like siblings, similar in grain and colour, but still with tiny individual differences in expression.
”If a client orders four chairs for their dining table, they should match, co-exist and not quarrel.”
Peter Hellqvist trained as a cabinetmaker at Capellagården and then studied furniture restoration at the Malmsten School under the legendary ornamental woodworker Bengt Sylvén. In the 1980s, Peter worked at the Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology, where he made models from Christopher Polhem’s mechanical alphabet, and for some years he was a prototype carpenter under his master Åke Axelsson. Then, Peter lived for five years in Japan, where he also worked with furniture, both in the workshop and as a teacher.
Today he has a well-established workshop in Alingsås, where he works on commissions and with private clients. Retirement life is not something that awaits: ”For as long as I find enjoyment in the material, and my fingers itch, I want to carry on.”
Text: Dan Gordan
Translation: Maria Morris