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Travel through the history of Sweden’s shapes and forms – geometric patterns, history, and connection to Nordic Nature woven into Swedish rugs.

Swedish rugs, also known as Swedish flat weave- or rag rugs, are a traditional form of textile weaving in Sweden. The rugs have a long history and are associated with Scandinavian folk art and design and continue to be celebrated for their quality craftsmanship, timeless design, and cultural significance. The simple, yet powerful combination of Mid-Century style and touches of Scandinavian folk art makes these vintage rugs so unique. Their good quality also makes them suitable for different types of rooms – such as both kitchen and living room space – giving the area an exquisite touch of high-quality Scandinavian artistic design. Follow us on a travel through a Swedish landscape of tasteful shapes and forms.

 

From Weaving Vikings to 20th Century Modern:

 

The history of rugs in Scandinavia is deeply intertwined with its rich textile tradition and overall cultural heritage. There’s proof and findings of weaving textiles from the Viking Age! However, we know that it wasn’t until the 18th century the weaving techniques in Sweden properly began to evolve. Communities in the countryside produced textiles for their own use, but weaving soon became an important industry in many regions. Influenced by both domestic and international trends, the style of the Swedish rug began to shape.

SWEDISH SWEDEN LATE 20TH CENTURY 6' 4" x 9' 0"

 SWEDISH

SWEDEN LATE 20TH CENTURY

6' 4" x 9' 0"

Rag rugs were introduced and gained popularity in the 19th century because of their affordable way of creating warmth and decoration in Swedish homes. The clever way of recycling old clothes and fabric scraps is what made them loved and used by many. An interesting fact is that by studying the fabrics and styles of clothing that were vowed into a rug, you can help determine from what era it was produced.

 

Towards the late 19th and early into the 20th century was once again a change in Swedish textile production, one reason being industrialization. The Art Nouveau design movement also influenced the rug patterns and motifs.

 

The 20th century was the revival of Swedish designs as we know them today. Designer Märta Måås-Fjetterström played a significant role in popularizing Swedish rugs even outside of Swedish borders. Her studio made high-quality handwoven rugs that showcased Swedish craftsmanship and unique design. In the latter half of the 20th century, contemporary designers experimented with new materials and patterns, blending traditional craftsmanship and newer aesthetics.

 

The making of the Swedish flat-weave rug

 

Authentic Swedish rugs are typically handwoven using traditional weaving techniques passed down through generations. Skilled artisans meticulously craft each rug, paying close attention to detail and quality.

SWEDISH

SWEDEN MID 20TH CENTURY

6' 6" x 8' 4"

 

The flatweave rugs are characterized by their flat, thin construction and geometric patterns. They’re woven on a loom using a flatweave technique and, therefore lack the pile found in knotted rugs. The absence of piles makes them lightweight and reversible area rugs, suiting many different parts of a home.

 

The knotted pile rug is a knotted rug with a thick, raised pile. The knots are all knotted by hand and around each warp thread and a double ruler. The surface is tied together hidden under the pile. When the background waft has been woven, the knot row is cut open with a pile knife and the weaver can begin on the next knot row.

 

The pile is cut to a smooth surface with scissors, as the weaving continues. The cut-open pile makes the color stronger, and the densest knotted piles make it possible to create detailed patterns. The knotted pile is the most exclusive and time-consuming technique, but also one of the best ways to make beautiful, unique patterns.

 

Designs and Patterns – Simply Scandinavian!

 

As well as many design areas in Sweden, such as fashion, and architecture, their rugs are known for their simplicity in style. Often featuring clean lines and uncomplicated patterns. Stripes being a hallmark of Swedish design were often made also to create a dynamic composition in the weaving process.  The minimalist approach is what creates the sophistication that will elevate almost any home even today in 2024. Apart from the clean-cut lines, some motifs are often inspired by nature, featuring animals, flowers, leaves, and branches. These are symbolic to reflect on Sweden’s connection to natural elements and environment, which gives a sense of tranquility in your home.

 

Muted Colors and Connection with Nature

 

Pairing nicely with the serene design and geometric shapes, the color palette is often more muted tones. As well as the shapes and motifs, inspired by the Swedish landscape and nature; pastel blues, greens, and grays reminiscing the calm, open lakes, lush forests, and extensive skies. Earthy tones, such as those seen on tree stems, branches, and old country roads are often also used in the color palette of the traditional vintage Swedish rug.

 

Scandinavian rugs often use natural materials such as linen, cotton, and wool. Traditionally, as mentioned, it was often from recycled clothing that was no longer usable. The fabrics were torn into strips and then woven together. The quality of the materials used for weaving is what contributes to the longevity of the rugs. It’s interesting how something that was made simply to save on expenses by reusing old fabrics, actually made these rugs so enduring in quality and loved until today.

 

Swedish Women in Design

 

Märta Måås-Fjetterström, born 1873, was an influential Mid-Century textile designer and her pieces are forever timeless classics from Swedish rug design. Her work was rooted in Nordic cultural traditions passed on for generations, and she created heavy-pile carpets, hooked rugs, and kilim rugs throughout her lifetime. Many of her motifs were nature-based, with either flowers or landscapes and she had a balance of traditional and innovative design in her weaving technique.

 SWEDISH

SWEDEN EARLY 20TH CENTURY

5' 6" x 9' 3"

Märta started her career as a book illustrator before her talent in textile design came to the surface. She gained her first international attention in 1909, when she was commissioned to design a series of rugs used in the Nobel Prize ceremony. Following this success she opened her atelier in Båstad, a small oceanside village known for its summer guests, in southern parts of Sweden where she produced over 600 designs in the span of 22 years, until her death. 

 

After Märta’s passing in 1941, another acclaimed textile designer who had been working on Märta’s right side for many years - Barbro Nilsson became the head of textiles at the workshop. Barbro Nilsson, known as the master of color and form, was born in 1899 in the southwest part of Sweden and was trained in hand weaving from the early age of only 14. Barbro’s rugs were characterized by intricate patterns, often inspired by nature. Many of her today-known rugs follow in the shades of dark, night sky-blue colors or muted greens, with modern and sophisticated simple motifs. Her creativity with textile colors makes her unique among textile artists in Scandinavia during this century.

 

Followed by this era, in the 1950s Astrid Sampe transformed the Swedish textile industry with her innovative and rich designs. Known for her textiles, she also designed rugs, and many of her design was a mix of modern geometric patterns and folk-inspired motifs. 

Swedish Rugs in Your Personal Space

Swedish vintage flat weave rugs have been in high demand from collectors and interior designers for years, and they are keeping their value. The simple mid-century design and high craftsmanship are what make them an art piece worth investing in, maybe even for your own home. The beauty of the timeless style of Swedish rugs is that they can uplift many different types of decor; a mid-century modern style condo, a romantic, rustic cottage style bedroom, or even add a touch of color and pattern to a more minimalistic modern home. Finding the Swedish rug that suits your space can take time, but when you find the one, you’ll know it.