Before there was such a thing as “Scandinavian Design” or the ubiquitous furnishings of companies like IKEA, there was Karin Larsson. Identified as “the first designer of what would become known as Swedish Modern” by the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., Karin Bergöö Larsson (1859–1928) was a mother of eight and wife to Sweden’s beloved painter, Carl Larsson. Herself a well-regarded artist, she gave up painting when she married, at the request of her husband. Taking up needles and cloth, she then turned a somewhat ugly cottage—Lilla Hyttnäs in the tiny village of Sundborn, Sweden—into a designer showcase.
Inspired by the Swedish countryside, she filled the home with handcrafted wall hangings, bed coverings, tablecloths, pillow covers and even furniture of her own design, while greatly influencing her husband’s work by encouraging him to move away from dark oils to more illuminating and light-filled watercolors. His paintings of their home made her interior designs famous, and her influence continues to inform the concepts of retail giant IKEA. Author Marge Thorell has just published a look at the life, work and influence of Karin Larsson. Hear from the author firsthand on Sunday, March 3rd at 2pm at the American Swedish Historical Museum, followed by a book signing. The talk is free with museum admission and the book will be available for purchase in the Museum Shop.