The biography of Karin Mobring

July 1, 2023

The biography of Karin Mobring

Karin Mobring worked as a designer for IKEA from 1964 to 1993. Of her most known pieces one can mention the Krumelur lounge chair from 1972 and the Stockholm collection designed together with Tomas Jelinek in 1983.

Karin Mobring studied ceramics at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm from 1946, but in 1949 she left the school to become a student of Carl Malmsten. In 1951 she finished her studies and returned to her hometown of Östersund and the island of Frösön, to work for her father, a construction engineer, for whom she made color schemes on exteriors and interiors, designed interiors and furnitures. In 1956 when Mobring's father died she continued her work for the engineering studio.

Mobring was hired by Ingvar Kamprad in 1964, after he had spotted an easy chair by her design at the Furniture Fair in Stockholm. At the Elmia Fair in Jönköping 1966, Mobring was chosen to show new leisure furniture, such as her folding chair Vika, the chair and table Ekerö as well as pieces for IKEA. One of her first pieces for IKEA was the chair Ingrid made in 1966, the bookshelf Leka and the table Karusell in 1968.

Mobring’s real breakthrough came in 1972 with the youthfully simple armchair Krumelur, designed in black lacquered steel pipe with a seat made of canvas fabric on which with thick cushions dressed in the cotton fabric Strax by Inez Svensson, was placed. Krumelur was on the front page of the IKEA catalogue in 1972 and dominated much of the company’s advertising that year.

The Amiral chair in chromed steel tubes and leather (1969), the safari chair Diana (1972) and the pine armchair Natura (1977) are considered three of Mobring's most prolific designs.

Together with designer Tomas Jelinek Mobring was chosen to work on IKEA’s collection STOCKHOLM, with classical, comfortable, and elegant furniture that most of the customers could afford. The result of Mobring's and Jelinek's work was launched in 1985 and was designed as a tribute to best of Swedish and Central European furniture tradition. The furniture was made of the best material on the market, the wooden pieces of Nordic birch that could be bought in clear wood, white lacquered or stained in red and brown.

In 1993 Karin Mobring retired from IKEA and lived permanently in her family home in Frösön. She passed away in 2005 at the age of 78 and since she didn’t have any heirs, Mobring bequeathed her inheritance to the Fistula Hospital outside Adis Abeba, to aid women and children. Every year 25 000 kronor is given to the hospital, from the Karin Mobring Fund, managed by the Swedish-Ethiopian organization. A small meadow and a beach in Frösön are named after her.

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