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Welcome to the House of Gärsnäs

You know that feeling of coming home. Home at last. Wonderful. Now, as the House of Gärsnäs opens on Skeppsholmen in Stockholm, it is that sense of homecoming that sets the tone and characterises the work. Call it both a source of inspiration and a meeting place; the main thing is that Gärsnäs feels at home.

“We’ve searched for the perfect place; a house of our own in a unique location where we can combine showroom and brand store; a setting where we can show our furniture in context with other materials, textiles, rugs, glass and art,” says Dag Klockby, part-owner of Gärsnäs, which has its factory in Österlen, southern Sweden.

The House of Gärsnäs, just a stone’s throw from Moderna Museet, will provide a new visitor attraction on Skeppsholmen. Here you can see and feel the world of Gärsnäs furniture – a light touch and innovative design – that for decades has been the first choice of many architects. Gärsnäs has always known that its furniture is also excellently suited to private homes, but never quite had the right premises to show it off properly.

“This is our most important initiative in finally opening up to the general public, as well as architects and their clients,” says Dag Klockby.

At the House of Gärsnäs, the various rooms each present a different character: a living room, a kitchen, a studio, a gallery, all with Gärsnäs chairs, sofas and tables. Furthermore, there is a textile chamber and a material room to investigate. With ease, one can be tempted to translate these settings into one’s own home. “We are bringing to life our creative capacity in one house, based on dreams of a better living environment for everyone.”

The building, once known as the Guardhouse or East Administrative Office, was designed by Victor Ringheim and constructed in 1862–64 as the chancellery for the navy’s dockyard. With handsome wrought-iron gating, the building was part of the entrance to the docks. The roof features a clock tower. The building was in use until 1969, when the docks moved location. In the stylish rooms, we can almost see clerks at high desks and feel the warmth of the tiled stoves. The stone stairs are beautifully worn from bounding steps. The soul of the house has emerged thanks to a comprehensive renovation, led by interior designer Lotta Agaton, under the supervision of the National Property Board of Sweden.

It is appropriate that the House of Gärsnäs is situated in a culturally historic setting. After all, the company has been making furniture since 1893. “We are also part of the cultural heritage; there aren’t too many furniture companies that are so old, yet still so active, as us,” says Anna Klockby, who is married to Dag, and a part-owner along with Åke Axelsson, her father and one of Sweden’s most famous interior architects and furniture designers.

Family-owned Gärsnäs celebrates its 130th anniversary next year. Initially, the company produced high-quality luxury furniture in historical styles for local, well-to-do customers, often complete suites ordered for weddings and used all life long. The factory grew during the post-war years and, from the 1960s onward, production of furniture for the public realm became its speciality. But the longing to sell directly to private customers has always been there. “Today there is no difference between consumer and contract sales,” says Dag Klockby.

Gärsnäs collaborates with a select group of designers, including Färg & Blanche, David Ericsson, Pierre Sindre, TAF Studio, Nina Jobs and David Regestam. Lots of Åke Axelsson’s designs have remained in production for decades; talk about sustainable design. According to Gärsnäs Vision 2030, the company will be carbon neutral by 2030. Reuse and renovation of older Gärsnäs models – otherwise in perfect condition, except for unfashionable colours – has become an increasingly important business.

The incentive behind the House of Gärsnäs is to gather all these narratives about the lovely, modern, cultivated furniture factory.

“Manufacturers today have to tell their stories themselves. Here we can talk about our own history and show all the components that make up Gärsnäs: manufacturing, sustainability and reuse. It is going to be a forum with furniture, talks and meetings with designers,” says Dag Klockby.

“We long for in-person meetings again, that genuine contact. We want to open the house to the public,” says Anna Klockby.

Now the stage is set and the House of Gärsnäs is opening its doors.
Welcome, one and all.

Interior photos by Mike Karlsson Lundgren
Portrait photo by Ida Borg
Text by Petter Eklund