Johan Huldt studied interior architecture and furniture design at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm during the middle of the 1960’s. Here Huldt got an internship at the furniture company DUX in Trelleborg together with fellow students Janne Ahlin, Jan Dranger and Martin Eiserman. The students' assignment from the company was to create furniture for the young generation, and the four of them founded the group DUX4yra in 1967 with focus on designing modern furniture at a low price. The result was the coach Multomanen, the collection Well, with pieces made of corrugated cardboard, and The Envelope, a coach made of fabric covered wooden panels delivered in a flat package.
In 1968 Huldt founded the design studio Innovator together with Jan Dranger, with the aim of making cheap and simple furniture for their own generation with focus on large scale production. Early on they had the vision of being the jeans (denim) of furniture design, which came to play a big part in their radical lifestyle marketing. One of Innovator’s first success (both national and international) was the lounge chair Kuddlådan (eng. the pillow box) for Swedish manufacturer Möbelmontage in 1969. Kuddlådan consisted of a black waxed cardboard stand with two pillows, one to sit on and one to be used as the backrest.
During the same year the chair 099 was released, a simple steel pipe construction that was covered by a stretch terry fabric, that could easily be removed and washed. The chair 099 was manufactured by the Swedish company EffKå. In 1972 the armchair Stuns was released at the Stockholm furniture fair and was later sold through KF. Stuns was made of a powder coated steel pipes construction with fabric in the seat and back, and thick cushions in bright yellow, brown, black, green and orange. Two years later the lounge chair that could easily be turned into a sofa, Pool/Baluff was launched by IKEA, and later by KF.
In 1974 Innovator launched the Tech trolley, a simple steelpipe sidetable on wheels. The following year the British department store Habitat took on Innovator’s designs in their assortment. In the late 1970’s Innovator hade 27 products in Habitat’s assortment and in the beginning of the 1980’s their design made up 80 % of the products in Habitat’s boutiques in mainly Great Britain and France.
Innovator was also successful as interior architects, making the interior and boutique furnishings for Swedish companies and organisations such as Polarn & Pyret and RFSU - The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education in Stockholm. For the later Innovator also designed condoms.
In 1977 Jan Dranger left Innovator but Huldt continued to run and develop the company together with Lars Gunnar Österlund by opening the chain store Basic Design in Stockholm and Gothenburg and working with license production in Japan and Brazil.
In 1980 Huldt designed the candy cane striped chair Slim, produced by Innovator without any upholstery, solely relying on the load bearing qualities of the weave. The furniture production by Innovator was strict, if some furniture was sold in less than 5 000 copies, the production ceased.
During his working life, Huldt has designed more than 70 pieces of furniture. From 1992 until 2003 Huldt was the CEO of Svensk Form – and in 2004 he was appointed professor in industrial design at HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design at Gothenburg University, and at The Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås 2003-2006.
Johan Huldt passed away in 2016 at the age of 74.