Kerstin Hörlin Holmquist studied in England in the 1940s and later at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. She started her design career in 1952 when architect Elias Svedberg discovered her talents. Svedberg had just, in collaboration with the architect Lena Larsson, become responsible for a new interior design concept at the classic department store NK. The concept named NK-Triva, was aimed to attract a growing group of younger consumers with modern design and new and more free interior design ideas. Hörlin Holmquist joined the project and continued working for NK during many years.
In 1952 she received a great deal of attention for the chair Stora Kraal - in rattan with thin steel base, that Hörlin Holmquist had begun to develop during her time at Konstfack. Stora Kraal was shown during the same year at the exhibition “52 stolar 52” (eng. 52 chairs 52) at the Röhsska Museum of Craft and Design in Gothenburg, that showed design made by young designers.
Hörlin Holmquist’s most popular design was the upholstery furniture in the series Paradiset (eng. Paradise). They were built on a new technique with frames cast in frigolite, which was a light plastic material easy to mold into organic forms. The interior magazines in Scandinavia praised Hörlin Holmquist collection with pieces such as Stor Eva and Liten Adam. The sofa Lustgården (eng. The Garden of Eden) with a pink upholstery was also one of Hörlin Holmquist’s most liked designs. For NK she also designed textiles.
For the armchair Skrindan (eng. The wagon) from 1963 Hörlin Holmquist took inspiration from the iconic Gripsholms armchair, created during the 1800th century. Skridan was produced by OPE Möbler in walnut, mahogany, or beech wood, which could be lacquered in red, black or green. During the 1970’s Hörlin Holmquist designed the garden furniture collection The Eden Collection, made of beech wood with brass covered legs.
From the late 1970’s until the mid 1980’s she worked for KF, for designing the collection Kära släkten (eng. Dearest family). Made in mahogany, Kära släkten was a way for KF to offer an alternative to the newly made epoch furniture while also connecting to traditional Swedish furniture design. In her later years, Hörlin Holmquist worked for A&C Collection in Kristianstad that mainly manufacured complete office interiors and for which she made the table Regal and Arken (eng. The ark).
In 1992 a retrospective exhibition of Hörlin Holmquist designs, together with her father Tor Hörlin’s paintings, was shown at Waldemarsudde in Stockholm. She is represented at a.o. the Swedish National Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Furniture Studies, both in Stockholm. Kerstin Hörlin Holmquist passed away in 1997 at the age of 72.