Swedish Grace Sideboard
From Dorian Caffot de Fawes
A Swedish Grace birch and Zebrano three-door sideboard, Each door with a marquetry motif and internally veneered with birch, revealing a central shelf, resting on a geometric neoclassical base, flanked by side doors (one of which fitted with green felt racks, which can be removed and be used as cocktail cabinets instead).
Sweden, circa 1925
88 cm high by 172 cm wide by 45 cm depth
One of the briefest, yet among the most remarkable eras of 20th century design would have to be Sweden’s 1920s romantic national style known as Swedish Grace, combining Neoclassicism with Art Deco. British journalist Philip Morton Shand was first to use the term to describe and underline the simple elegance of this golden decade. Refined pieces of furniture, simple lines enhanced by exquisite details and ancient motifs, all handmade with extraordinary craftsmanship. It was at the 1925 Paris exhibition – the showcase for what has become known as Art Deco - that Swedish design made its breakthrough. The Swedish pavilion took the form of a neo- Greek temple designed by acclaimed architect Carl Bergsten, with furniture by Gunnar Asplund, Carl Malmsten, Carl Hörvik and Uno Åhrén, to name a few. Sweden won no less than 36 Grand Prix, 100 gold medals and countless honorary mentions. An honourable second place, after the host nation France. Two years later, in 1927, Sweden became the first country to exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, with Swedish Contemporary Decorative Arts. Both landmark events, together with the Barcelona exhibition in 1929 with exquisite furniture made by Axel Einar Hjorth, were to cement the good reputation of Swedish design. Soon after though, the country was going to embrace the inexorable progression of modernism and functionalism, making Swedish Grace look like a short yet exceptional parenthesis in the history of 20th century design. In the past few years, the discreet charm and high refinement of Swedish Grace has been promoted by a handful of 20th century dealers, making this golden era as popular among highly demanding collectors today as it was in the 1920s.