Design Icon #3: String shelf by Nils Strinning


Wow, this week has flown by, don’t you think?! Today for the section Design Icon I share with you Strinning’s shelf system. String shelves are successfu for over sixty years with their blend of modularity, simplicity and lightness aesthetics, enhanced by today’s fresh colors.


String Furniture is a Swedish company icon of Scandinavian design, specializing in the design and production of home furniture. Founded by architect and Swedish designer Nils Strinning, in 1949, for over fifty years, is a pioneer in the field of modular shelves that allow you to create shelves or bookcases, perfect for every need. The modular system String System is a versatile and easy-structural design, combining the convenience and beauty of Nordic design.

The best known products made by String Furniture are the String System, String and String Plex Pocket, which now are design icons throughout the world. These modular systems are very practical, have a lightweight, but at the same time a robust structure. The side panels are simple to assemble and easy to move shelves, and if you need to add more space, you can simply add one or more modules to the composition. Since its inception, the String design has received very prestigious awards at international level, so much so that in 1950, were also purchased to decorate the interiors of the United Nations headquarters.

Characteristics of the products signed by Strinning that make them so much loved: they are instantly recognizable – function, essential design and attention to detail – are qualities that made these modular systems, very famous thanks to a timeless design classic and contemporary at the same time. It may seem strange when, something as simple and humble as this shelf, it becomes one of the most important icons of twentieth century design, winning more than fifteen esteemed international awards and turning out today, a complement of very young and contemporary furniture. The reasons are many: the thin structure, light and airy is easy to install, is economic to transport, the shelves are easy to assemble, also, if you were to suddenly change your mind about his position in your home, you can quickly change it according to your needs. Shelves of different depths that fit together with the support of the side panels; panels with elegant shapes and clean that provide the true touch of the complement style. Panels designed as an imperceptible ladder climbing on the wall: brilliant, variable, flexible.


Behind the Design

Probably, if it weren’t for a competition held in 1949 by the largest Swedish editor Bonnier company, perhaps today the String brand would not exist.

Bonnier launched a competition to design a shelf / bookcase, that was affordable, simple, easy to transport and assemble. The competition gives the possibility to the architect Nils Strinning to put into practice his ideas, thus winning the first prize. Lightweight, modularity and functional minimalism contributes to the fame of the String shelving system. Simple and brilliant, these modular shelves can be combined, depending on your needs: thanks to two supports with metal cables, you can assemble and dismantle the shelves at your convenience, when you feel like it.


Here is a little bit of inspiration

Depending on color and finish of the shelves and structure you can play to get the perfect library/home office/space for all your favorite objects…











Now it’s time to talk about Nils Strinning, designer of this design icon…


Nils Strinning was a swedish architect and designer. He was best known for the String system that he designed in 1949. In the 1940s, he studied architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (KTH). Already as a student, he designed a dish rack which consisted of plastic coated metal wires.

Everything has a prehistory and this one is about laziness and wire. Drying dishes was a time-consuming enterprise before the days of the dishwasher. Air drying is more hygienic than using a dishcloth but then a practical and orderly dish rack is required. The elfa dish rack became nils strinning’s first successful invention in 1946. Three years later, together with the producer Arne Lydmar, he had solved the problem of how to coat the steel wire with plastic, yes, Nils Strinning is the father of the entire elfa-system with his wire baskets which are to be found in most wardrobes today, like the wore baskets on the kitchen sink cover.

“Nothing is too modest that it can’t be made better”, this is how you could summarise Nils Strinning’s view on life. Through him the inventors demand for function is combined with the aesthetician’s feeling for proportion and detail.



You can find more info about String shelves here and purchase


Did you miss the other chapters of design icon?

#1 The Arco lamp by Castiglioni brothershere

#2 The Plastic chiars by Charles and Ray Eameshere

Certain things become so strongly associated with an era that they become timeless…this is certainly true of nils strinning’s shelf system, String, which was designed in 1949. It may seem strange that something as simple and humble as this little dainty light shelf with its thin side panels has become one of the twentieth century’s foremost design icons. What do you think? Do you like this shelf system?

Happy Sunday!


Photos via String and Pinterest

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