A collection of young craftsmen started the Konsthantverkarnas Guild in 1906, to promote Swedish arts and crafts. They wanted to open up to contemporary signals and the ”new style”, German and Austrian ideas about the environment and interior design. The guild was an active think tank that arranged lectures, debates, and exhibitions. They showed the latest crafts from England, Japanese art etc. The lectures were usually about current topics such as the plans for a new arts and crafts museum in Stockholm (an issue that is still discussed today).
From Konsthantverkarnas Gille, Konsthantverkarna was born 40 years later. In 1946, the architect Marianne von Münchow, one of the first early female interior designers in the country, got an idea; Why not have a common point of sale? A gallery and a shop that would be run by the members themselves. ”Our shop will be a current window for Swedish arts and crafts,” they said, as well as ”our intention is to give the many, younger skilled artisans, who lack their own sales outlets, a chance to show their knowledge to a larger public while the older and well-known masters should be able to exhibit their most recent works’. The first store opened on Mäster Samuelsgatan, where it was located until 2004.
Today, Konsthantverkarna is Sweden’s largest association for contemporary arts and crafts and has over 70 years of experience in running a business in harmony with society’s development and change. 70 years of wills and events, crises and successes. Despite periods of concern, Konsthantverkarna has moved forward over the years, stubbornly working according to a collective belief in the importance of arts and crafts as an expression of time. Seen in the rear-view mirror, it is a huge web of business. The members’ solitary toil in the workshops, described successes, forgotten exhibitions, brilliant sales or days with zero cash, lectures and debates, worries and sacrifices, meetings well into the evenings. During these 70 years, virtually the entire ”arts and crafts Sweden” has passed as members, exhibitors, or election jurys.
Our members are spread across Sweden and work in their own workshops. Our youngest member is 28 and our oldest 83 years. Some have studied in Sweden, others abroad and some are self-taught. The gallery shows about 10 separate or group exhibitions per year with both Swedish and international artists, both members and invited guests. We also have regular mini exhibitions in our window, artist talks and lectures. Konsthantverkarna is a unique institution, and we look forward to many eventful years.