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An interview with Sara Wadskog, Marketing and Export Manager at Karl Andersson & Söner:

'Our products are designed to survive generations of use and wear'

From its humble beginnings in 1898, Karl Andersson's vision of crafting "well-made, sustainable, and durable furniture" continues to define the company's ethos across four generations. Sara Wadskog, Marketing and Export Manager at the Swedish brand Karl Andersson & Söner, shares how this commitment extends beyond rhetoric, with practices like responsible wood sourcing and global development collaborations. With an unwavering focus on innovation and quality showcased at international exhibitions, Karl Andersson & Söner remains dedicated to producing enduring furniture that embodies timeless Swedish design principles for generations to come.

Can you tell us about the rich history of Karl Andersson & Söner?
'It all began in 1898 when my father's grandfather carpenter Karl Andersson began to make furniture in the small village of Berghem, north of Huskvarna in Sweden. He was known for his creativity, boundless enthusiasm and dynamism, a man who saw his ideas through to completion. He solemnly promised to manufacture nothing but "well-made, sustainable and durable furniture".

Over the years Karl and his wife, Ida, were blessed with five sons and six daughters, also taking in a foster son. One by one, four of the five boys became involved in their father's business, hence Söner (Sons) in the company name. Since 2000, the fourth generation of the same family is running the business; the siblings Maria, Sara and Andreas Wadskog.

Karl Andersson started to make furniture in his parental home for neighbours and people in the village. His business grew and sales expanded to all over Sweden. His sons took over the company and developed the international business by starting collaborations with external designers such as Carl Malmsten and Börge Mogensen. Since the beginning of this century, the company delivers their furniture all over the world.'

Can you share insights into Karl Andersson's vision of "well-made, sustainable and durable furniture" and how it has shaped the company's values and business practices over four generations?
'As early as in 1898 Karl Andersson used the word sustainable ("hållbara" in Swedish). We have had that word in our business concept for over 100 years. For us it means that we are careful with our resources, are environmentally sound and that our products should last for several decades, even generations.

Working with renowned designers and using wood as our principal material, our ambition is to develop high-class furniture with a strong identity and a unique character that outlives fleeting trends. In that way, we can continue Karl's idea to develop and produce sustainable and durable furniture that has that little extra and that speaks for itself.'

'The wood we use, we buy from companies that are aware of their environmental responsibilities and comply with existing rules and regulations. All our suppliers are certified according to PEFC or FSC – Certified wood. We make our own blockboard, cut our own veneer and cut our own MDF. Everything to get the most out of the wood we purchase. Even what remains as waste and residue after furniture production finds its use. Certain wood waste we send to other furniture manufacturers who tile and heat their premises. Planer shavings are used in animal boxes on horse stables and animal farms in our surroundings. In addition, schools and preschools get leftover pieces of wood that the kids can use for crafting. What remains, our employees use the residual wood in tiled stoves or open fireplaces in their homes for cosy evenings.

We are also one of the few furniture manufacturers who reuse our exhibition stands from fair to fair. For the annual fairs in Stockholm, Milan and Cologne we use the same floors and walls that we assemble, pack down and transport back home after the end of each trade fair. A modular system is easy to customise and build just the way we want it. The floors and walls we use today have been attending the fairs for ten years.

And we help people and companies to renovate and refresh their furniture from Karl Andersson & Söner. We often get requests for sanding tabletops, painting cabinets, and repairing damaged surface layers on well-used furniture. Simple interventions that prolong the life of the investment so people and companies can continue to enjoy their sustainable and durable furniture.'

Can you elaborate on your development projects in collaboration with SIDA?
'To help other people is a heritage from Karl and Ida. They always reached out a helping hand. So, together with SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the company has been involved in several development projects in Africa, South America and India over the years. The projects were different cases, such as corporate management techniques, manufacturing, marketing and design.'

You were recently at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. What products did you show there and how were they received?
'At Stockholm Furniture Fair, every February, we release new products. This year we released four new products: Ondulé Club easy chair and 2-seat sofa, Taverna stackable wooden chair, Peel foldable pillar table and Hito sofa table.

For us, it's the most important happening of the year. Since we are focused on public spaces, the professionals we want to meet come to the fair. This year the fair was smaller with fewer exhibitors and visitors. But of the 18,000 people who visited the fair, there was very high quality of buyers, architects and retailers. The other stands and exhibitions were inspiring and fresh. There was optimism among us exhibitors!

My question to all absent manufacturers: If you are not at professional trade fairs where you have the opportunity to show your brand and furniture for customers, where are you going to show it?

As every year, we are also exhibiting at the following professional fairs: Stockholm Furniture Fair, Salone del Mobile in Milan, Trends & Traditions in Copenhagen, Neocon in Chicago and Orgatec in Cologne.'

Looking ahead, what are Karl Andersson's aspirations and goals for the future?
'We intend to continue to be the little admirable company in Huskvarna, which produces well-made, sustainable and durable furniture in our own factory for another hundred years to come. Here you will always find classic designs that we have been producing for decades, alongside new furniture in innovative designs. They all share one thing – they are Swedish classics of the highest quality and sustainability, designed to survive generations of use and wear.'

More information:
Karl Andersson & Söner
Rosendalagatan 6
SE - 561 34 Huskvarna, Sweden
+46 (0)36 13 25 30
[email protected]