Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Check it out

Have you ever noticed how common red and white checks are in Lundby furniture? As far as I can tell, this pattern appears on pieces shown in Lundby catalogs from 1977 to 2003.

1977 catalog: Doll's shirt, tabletop, chair cushions, sofa, curtains

My collection: Bedspreads, doll's shirt, floor lamp

My collection: Tablecloth, chair cushions
My collection: Ironing board cloth, Lisa ceiling lamp, corner sofa & armchair, curtains
My collection: Ceiling lamp, homemade rug
My collection: 1985 bedroom set
These are just some examples. Can you think of more?

Curious about the significance of all these checks, I set off to find more information. My search led me into the fascinating world of pattern theory and the "Universal Pattern" website.

In an article on the site, art historian Mikael Traung from Stockholm says that in the 18th century, the Swedish nobility used cotton fabric with a check pattern to cover their fine furniture and protect it from dust and sunglight while they were away at their summer homes. This pattern was called "Medevi square" after a 17th century spa frequented by King Gustav III.

According to Traung, cotton was inexpensive and easy to weave, especially into a checked pattern. This fabric came to be used as upholstery because it was cheaper and more durable than other materials like silk, and people just liked how it looked. Eventually it became a key feature of Gustavian style, a Swedish version of rococo characterized by fewer details and an emphasis on refined elegance and a lighter, "blonde" touch.

So it sounds like there is a very long tradition of red and white checks in Sweden, as reflected in (many!) Lundby pieces over the years.

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