Top 5 – Swedish
long-living brands

These five Swedish design icons lead the industry by combining a strong skills legacy with a bold, reinventive take on design.


Text and photos by Laura Iisalo.

1. Luxuriant in leather

Many famous fashion and furniture brands swear by this trademark: founded 140 years ago, Tärnsjö Garveri remains world-renowned for its high-quality, locally-sourced, vegetable-tanned leather. Axel Bodén – who took over from his father as director 12 years ago – recently hired Simon Hjälte as creative director. His new Icon Collection features hand-finished accessories for urban lifestyles.

2. Frankly fabulous

Estrid Ericson opened a little pewter workshop in Stockholm back in 1924. Ten years later she hired Austrian-born designer Josef Frank, and together they built an interiors company loved for its bold, colourful style. Svenskt Tenn collaborates regularly with contemporary designers and hosts a beautiful tea salon in its flagship store as a tribute to Ericson, who drank two and a half cups every morning and the same again with lunch.

3. Books with looks

The history of Bookbinders Design goes back to 1927, when Martin Åhnberg acquired the equipment he needed to start binding books. He went on to start his own company, Åhnbergs Bokbinderi in 1965, which later became Bookbinders Design in 2001. Still specialising in Scandinavian-style handcrafted products such as notebooks, boxes and other accessories made of natural materials, the company collaborates with creative talent including Swedish illustrator and designer Hanna Werning.

4. A touch of glass

Founded in 1742, Kosta Boda started off as a glass manufacturer of useful glassware items such as window panes, bottles and chandeliers for the well-to-do who could afford them. Today seven in-house designers produce everything from utility glassware to art glass. The company even has its own hotel near the factory, boasting a bar made entirely of glass and a pool with an underwater exhibition.

5. Brass ambition

Skultuna was founded in 1608 by King Karl IX to foster the Swedish brass industry. Over the centuries the brass manufacturer has transformed itself into a design brand. These days Skultuna collaborates with many edgy designers including Luca Nichetto, Claesson Koivisto Rune and Lara Bohinc, whose candleholders sold out last year and have been relaunched for summer in pretty pastels.

This article was first published in the Summer 2015 issue of Finnair's monthly in-flight magazine Blue Wings.