In 1943 John Kandell began working in the architectural office of Carl-Axel Acking, while also studying interior architecture and furniture design at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. After graduating in 1947, Kandell continued to study at the school’s sculptural department where he also worked as a teacher form 1951-56.
From 1948 to 1969 Kandell worked part time at the studio of Sven Ivar Lind. Of Kandell’s earliest designs is the armchair Waldemarsudde from 1952 made for the newly opened house of Prince Eugene, who had passed away in 1947. When the house was going to be turned into an art gallery, a competition was set up for the interior architecture and furnishings. Sven Ivar Lind won, but the Waldemarsudde armchair was designed by Kandell, made of oiled teak in a light, Japanese inspired style.
When Lind was appointed to make the interior for the treasury at the Royal Castle in Stockholm in 1968, Kandell designed the height adjustable chair Bon Bon. During the 1960’s Kandell was a member of the HI-group, concisting of of cabinetmakers and furniture designers working closely together with early exhibitions. Kandell worked together with cabinet maker David Sjölinder, and for HI’s last exhibition in 1965, he designed the armchair Singel that in 1990 came into production by Källemo.
In 1966 Kandell designed the children armchair Bip, named after his newborn son’s nickname. Bip was designed with inspiration from the traditional safari chair in beech wood and ox-leather and was put into production by Källemo in the 1980’s. Some of Kandell’s most known pieces were made during the 1980’s by master cabinetmaker Lars Larsson, such as Camilla (1982). Together with Larsson and his wife, textile artist Ulla Möller-Kandell, Kandell had re-occurring exhibtions under the name Trä Textil (Wood Textile).
In the mid 1980’s Kandell got in contact with manufacturer Källemo, with the wish to make “three proper armchairs”. The result was the almost sculptural armchair Solitär in 1985 with lightning shaped legs and Chinese inspiration, and in 1990 Block and Victory were launched. The later, made in bright red color and a V – the sign for victory in the back – was to become Kandell’s last design. All three chairs came in a larger collection of furniture.
As an interior architect, Kandell worked on several major projects such as the Court of Appeal of Skåne, Bleckinge, and Malmö, the Supreme Court in Stockholm as well as the directorates apartment for Handelsbanken in the same city. Kandell also worked on churches and power plants.
John Kandell passed away in 1991 at the age of 66. He is represented at the Swedish National Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Furniture Studies in Stockholm, as well as the Röhsska Museum of Craft and Design in Gothenburg and at museums in Denmark and Japan.