WITH ITS SCANDINAVIAN ROOTS, VERSATILE STRUCTURE AND TIMELESS AESTHETIC, IT’S NO WONDER STRING REMAINS AN UNDISPUTED CLASSIC
In 1949, two architecture students, husband and wife Nils and Kajsa Strinning, entered a competition to design a bookshelf. The brief, from publishing company Bonnier, was to create something that was easy to set up, adjustable and extendable. Bonnier hoped this would encourage Swedes to read more – and buy more books. Nils and Kajsa’s design, the String Shelf, was the obvious winner.
Fast-forward to today and String is still in many homes – in fact, 70 years later it’s sold more pieces than any other item of Swedish furniture. Perhaps it’s because of its adaptability or affordability, or that we’re often looking for increasingly clever ways to store our belongings. Or maybe it’s down to its Swedish clean lines and good looks.
“I made a small ladder of steel wire and I became rich on it!”
Getting the hang of String is easy: in its basic form, it’s a modular shelving system made from lengths of wood that are held in place by two ladder-style supports.
In fact, the trickiest part is deciding which components to buy. How about the Work Desk, which creates an instant laptop station, or the Bowl Shelf, which is perfect for keeping small toys safe in a kid’s room? The Storage Cabinet can be hung high to maximise storage in an office, or low to create a stylish sideboard effect in a dining room. Your String collection can keep growing and adapting as your storage needs change (and of course, you can take it with you when you move).
The system remains much the same as when it was first launched. ‘Although we have widened the family,’ explains Peter Erlandsson, who now co-owns String with his business partner Par Josefsson after buying it from the then 87-year-old Nils Strinning in 2005. ‘Our latest addition, the Magazine Shelf, meets the new demand to show off the front cover of books, for example architecture and recipe ones, rather than having them stacked with their spines on display.’
“The side panels of String give the shelf character. It’s a slender ‘ladder’ that just seems to climb up the walls”
‘String is constantly finding ways to innovate,’ says Helen Maxfield, Partner & Assistant Buyer, Living & Dining, ‘and customers are in turn becoming increasingly clever with how they are utilising it. Originally designed for the living room, I've seen some really clever iterations in the kitchen.’
If you’re new to the idea of modular storage, then start off small with the String Pocket, which Nils designed in 2005. You won’t be alone – there are more than 19,700 posts on Instagram for #stringpocket, with more than 70,000 Pockets sold worldwide since 2016. It works perfectly as a bedside unit, storage for kitchen crockery or space for books interspersed with trailing houseplants.
string Shelving Unit with Cabinets, Shelves, Bowl Shelf Section, Work Desk and Drawer Section, Walnut/Black