The history behind NK's Verkstäder

April 10, 2023

The history behind NK's Verkstäder

Swedish department store NK started producing their own furniture ranges in 1904, just two years after its establishment. They founded NK's Verkstäder to create furniture that met their customers' requests, and the production continued until 1973. The retrospective exhibition "NK's Möbler 1904-1973" at Sörmlands Museum showcases the legacy of NK's Verkstäder and its contribution to Swedish furniture design.

In 1904, only two years after it´s establishment the Swedish department store NK started manufacturing their own furniture ranges in the town of Nyköping, 100 km from Stockholm.

In order to produce furniture in line with their customers request they founded the company NK´s Verkstäder (eng. NK´s Workshops). In the 1930s the company had over 400 employees- cabinet makers, metal workers and upholsterers. This production continued in nearly 70 years until 1973, when the factory was closed down. 

The furniture produced in Nyköping was designed by some of the leading architects and designers of the time such as Carl Malmsten, Gunnar Asplund, Carl Bergsten and Axel-Einar Hjorth. During the 1950s and 60s NK also held the Scandinavian license for manufacturing furniture designed by Eero Saarinen, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Harry Bertoia as well as the famous BKF Butterfly chair. On the other hand some of NK´s furniture series were sold in the USA by the company Knoll International.

In 1943 Swedish architect and furniture designer Elias Svedberg (1913–1987) won a competition to create furniture for mass production aimed for Swedish modern homes. His entry, the knock-down chair Ta i Trä (eng. Knock on Wood) was spotted by NK and became a part of the Triva collection (that Svedberg designed in 1940). Later Svedberg was hired by the company as head of the interior department.

The Triva concept became the first Swedish furniture range to be delivered to the customers in flat packages (before IKEA). Of the chairs from the first Triva collection, the Safari chair, is the most well-known and became a best-seller for NK. Svedberg later developed the Triva concept further together with architects Lena Larsson, Kerstin Hörlin-Holmquist and Erik Wørts.

NK´s Verkstäder is the subject of the recently opened retrospective exhibition “NK´s Möbler 1904-1973” at Sörmlands Museum in Nyköping. To the exhibition the Museum of Furniture Studies contributes six objects from the museum collection. 

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Hans J. Wegner

Danish furniture designer Hans J. Wegner created over 500 pieces of furniture and was instrumental in the spread of Scandinavian design as an international concept. the Peacock Chair and the Ox Chair are two of Wegner’s most well-known pieces.

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