2017-08-09 15:14Press release

ArkDes presents a forgotten treasure of furniture design history​


ArkDes presents a forgotten treasure of furniture design history

Discover the HI Group: masters of craft, furniture and interior design from the 1960s. The HI Group - Craftsmanship in the Plastic Age is an exhibition of 30 objects, from furniture to photography, that tells a story of the renaissance of craft in an era more associated with modern, industrialised materials.

The now almost mythical HI Group (Hantverksmästare och Inredningsarkitekter or master craftsmen and interior designers) was famous in its time, but this exhibition will be the first time since the 1960s that its work has been gathered together in an exhibition. In addition to archive and photographic material from ArkDes’ own collections, the exhibition contains original and unique handmade pieces and prototypes from the group’s history.

To mark the opening of the exhibition, the book HI-gruppen och hantverkets återkomst/The HI Group and the Return to Craft is being released as part of a collaboration with publisher Carlsson. The book was written by Johan Örn, curator of collections at ArkDes, and it provides the basis for the exhibition.

”The HI Group strove to re-invigorate the art of furniture design in Sweden and to put craft back at the centre. The collections at ArkDes contain unique images of the HI-group’s pieces taken by Sune Sundahl, and these will be included in the exhibition,” says Johan Örn, curator of collections at ArkDes. 

The HI Group, which was formed in the 1960, consisted not only of designers like Åke Axelsson, Hans Johansson and John Kandell, but also master craftsmen and interior designers. The aim of this combination was to bring together interior designers and furniture designers at an early stage of the creative process in order to create an opportunity to experiment without having to worry about the demands of industry. It was also a place where prototypes for industrial manufacture could be produced. At the same time, the initiative was a reaction to the Danish domination of crafted modern furniture. The underlying message was that this was something that Swedes could also do.

The initiative to form the group was taken by the interior designer, Stig Lönngren. At its height, it consisted of sixteen members: the interior designers Åke Axelsson, Hans Johansson, John Kandell, Erik Karlström, Hans Kempe, Thea Leonhard, LarsErik Ljunglöf, Stig Lönngren and Stig Åke Nordell, the master cabinet-makers Anders Berglund, Lars Larsson, Erik Lindgren and David Sjölinder, and the master upholsterers Gösta Engström and Åke Nilsson. Holger Johansson was the group’s master sheet-metal worker.

13 September – 19 November 2017.

Expert: Johan Örn, curator of collections at ArkDes

Producer: Lena Landerberg

Exhibition scenography: TAF Architects

Graphic design: Johannes Molin


With an emphasis on learning, sharing and provoking debate about the practical and theoretical role of design and architecture in contemporary life, the Centre exists to illustrate and offer an active platform for architecture, design and sustainable urban development, as well as to care for, list, scientifically process and enhance, through new acquisitions, the collections entrusted to it.

About ArkDes (The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design)

ArkDes is Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design. It is a museum, a study centre and an arena for debate and discussion about the future of architecture, design and citizenship.