Introducing Byggmästare John Mattson Library – on Lidingö

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What did you say? Byggmästare John Mattson Library? On Lidingö?
Yes, in Stockholm, or on the island of Lidingö to be precise, is LiU’s smallest campus, equipped with its own library.

Situated on Campus Lidingö is Malmstens Linköping University (a division within the Department of Management and Engineering) which offers three bachelor’s programmes: Furniture Design, Cabinetmaking and Upholstery. These programmes have their origins with Carl Malmsten, a designer who started the school that is today Malmstens in 1930. A lot has happened at Malmstens since then. Some education programmes have been added, and some have been cancelled.

Byggnader vid Malmstens Linköpings universitet
Malmstens Linköping University. Photo by: Maria Leijonhielm

Carl Malmsten himself is most famous for furniture designs such as the Windsor-style chair model Lilla Åland and the armchair models Samsas and Farmor. Not equally well known is that he had an interest in pedagogy, which probably stemmed from his own somewhat difficult experiences at school. The pedagogy that is practiced at Malmstens today still has things in common with Carl Malmsten’s motto “hand and mind in creative combination.”

In the autumn of 2000, Malmstens became part of Linköping University. Since then, it is possible to study craft and design in an academic environment at Malmstens and acquire a bachelor’s degree and thereby qualify for master’s studies. At Malmstens, practical and academic elements not only exist side by side but rather dance together in harmony. To learn by doing and to continuously reflect upon one’s work is a hallmark of Malmstens.

What about the library then? When Malmstens outgrew its facilities on Södermalm in Stockholm, an opportunity arose to acquire new facilities perfectly adapted to its needs through the real-estate company John Mattsons Fastighets. Byggmästare John Mattson’s Memorial Foundation was established. The foundation donated funds to the library and is also a contributor to a professorial chair and awards scholarships to students who have excelled in their degree projects. The scholarships are usually handed out every year on Carl Malmsten’s birthday on the 7th of December.

Byggmästare John Mattson Library holds literature in design, craft, materials such as wood and textiles, as well as an array of publications about artisans, designers and artists. It offers a range of Swedish and international journals on these topics as well.

Ett runt bord omgivet av stolar och bokhyllor
Byggmästare John Mattson Library. Photo by: Maria Leijonhielm.

The library also houses Åke Livstedt’s Collection. Åke Livstedt, who donated his collection to the library, was an art and cultural historian with a keen interest in twentieth century design, and especially the Home exhibition at Liljevalchs in 1917, the Stockholm exhibition in 1930 and the H55 exhibition in Helsingborg. The collection comprises print material – searchable in Libris – and items such as porcelain and glass artifacts.

In the library, there is also a piano (recently tuned) that was designed and built by Georg Bolin, who was a teacher and headmaster at the former Carl Malmsten apprenticeship school.

Byggmästare John Mattson Library is open to the public as a reference library on Wednesdays between 1 pm and 5 pm. Only students and personnel at Malmstens Linköping University are eligible to borrow items.

By: Maria Leijonhielm, Senior Coordinator at Malmstens Linköping University

Translated by: Peter Igelström