Dezeen Magazine

"Stolab is passion for solid wood" says owner and CEO Martin Johansson

As Stolab celebrates 80 years of its Lilla Åland chair, Dezeen is teaming up with the Swedish solid-wood furniture brand to launch Stolab Stories, a three-part video series, beginning with an introduction to some of its key pieces.

Stolab has been manufacturing solid wood furniture in Smålandsstenar, Sweden, since 1907.

During this year's Stockholm Design Week, the brand commemorates the 80th anniversary of its Windsor-style Lilla Åland chair with the release of a special edition coated in smoked oak oil, as well as a series of unique editions painted in bright colours.

Lilla Aland chair by Stolab
Stolab's best-known piece is the Lilla Åland chair

"Stolab is passion for solid wood," said the brand's owner and CEO Martin Johansson in an exclusive video interview with Dezeen, before going on to introduce a number of Stolab's key products.

The Lilla Åland chair, designed by Carl Malmsten, is one of Stolab's most recognisable chairs, and has been a mainstay of its output since it was first produced in 1942.

"Lilla Åland is one of the main chairs we're producing today," said Johansson. "It's celebrating 80 years, which is quite rare within the design industry today."

"It's crafted in a way so you can actually see that it differs from a lot of other Windsor-style chairs."

Lilla Aland chair by Stolab
Stolab is releasing a special edition of the Lilla Åland chair at Stockholm Design Week

Swedish architect and designer Jonas Lindvall created the bent-wood Miss Holly armchair for Stolab in 2011. He told Dezeen about the painstaking craft that goes into manufacturing the chair.

"When you sit in a chair like this, the Miss Holly, you should feel secure, that it's actually caressing you, that it's generous," said Lindwall.

"It's quite a difficult chair to make," he continued. "Even if it looks quite simple, it's bent in a way that you really can't bend solid wood. It's first steamed and then compressed, so you enable the wood to actually be bent."

Stolab Stories
Jonas Lindvall designed the Miss Holly chair for Stolab

Also amongst the pieces highlighted by Johansson in the video is the lower Arka armchair, designed by Yngve Ekström in 1955.

"It was a gem, it was a jewel," enthused Johansson.

Marit Stigsdotter, a designer who has devised a number of pieces for Stolab, introduces her Prima Vista chair, which pairs an upholstered seat with a softly-curved solid wood back.

"The comfort in it was crucial for us," she said. "Tactility is the key word for that chair."

Stolab Stories
The Prima Vista chair was designed by Marit Stigsdotter for Stolab

Speaking more generally, Stigsdottir emphasised the importance of design in her life.

"Design is not just a product, it's a process," she said. "I can't do anything else, it's my way of living."

"Design in general connects us to the past and hopefully the future, and helps us navigate this world," she continued.

Stolab Stories
Yngve Ekström designed the Arka armchair for Stolab in 1955

Echoing Stigsdottir's sentiment, Johansson explained how Stolab combines attention to heritage with a commitment to long-lasting designs and focus on the future.

"Heritage is important," he said. "We have a responsibility to make the future as bright as the past has been for us."

"Tomorrow standard is products that will live for a long time," Johansson continued. "You become quite confident when you survive 150 years, but we're really more excited about the future."

Partnership content

This article was written as part of a partnership with Stolab. Find out more about our partnership content here.