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Astrid Sampe

Thermidor .1954

Order is liberty

Astrid Sampe (1909-2002)

Astrid Sampe Astrid Sampe was a Swedish textile artist who is best known for her “Signed Textiles”. She introduced textiles especially designed for public interior decoration. Her textile designs are stylistically pure, light and still celebrated in the world of interior design. Astrid Sampe was born in 1909 in Stockholm, her roots in Sjuhäradsbygden (in western Sweden). She was trained at the Swedish State School of Arts, Craft and Design (Konstfack) in Stockholm, during the years 1928-1932. This gave her the opportunity to do an exchange at The Royal Collage of Art in London.

After her studies in 1935, Astrid was hired by Nordiska Kompaniet (NK). She started working as a designer there, and a year later she became the manager of the newly created NK Textile Studio (Textilkammaren). She was head of the textile department at their studio until 1971 when she retired. In 1972 Astrid Sampe established her own studio in Stockholm. Astrid Sampe was an innovative designer who designed modern textiles for industrial production while still preserving and extending the traditions of Nordic textile design. She was the first designer in Sweden to experiment with fibreglass cloth and also to use data based patterns. In 1955 she produced several designs for domestic linens with geometric patterns and folk-inspired motifs that became a huge success. Astrid Sampe designed products for a number of Swedish textile companies such as Kasthall and Almedahls, and her designs include Liljerand, Liljeruta, and Versailles but her most famous one being Thermidor. A pioneer in Swedish Modern Movement, she has been proactive in embracing new technology and materials in her designs. She was the first to make computer programmed patterns for printing on textiles. She also designed for Knoll International in New York and Donald Brothers in Dundee. Some of her textiles are still in production.

Style Astrid Sampe was a pioneer in the Swedisn Modern Movement. As a textile artist she is best known for her ‘serene abstract geometric designs’. Her love for a systematic approach towards design is clearly evident from one her maxims,“Order is liberty”. “I think a printed pattern should be architectural”, she said. “This means that the design should have a basic feeling of either horizontals or verticals or both.” Astrid Sampe’s fascination with the relationship between textiles and modern architecture is clearly evident in her very minimalist striped patterns like Lazy Lines and Thermidor.

I think a printed pattern should be architectural. She paid minute attention to colour, whether they are graduating tones or contrasting colours. Her choice in colours raised the bar of Nordic design to a whole new level.The progressing tones of blue in Windy Way is an examplar of Sampe’s mastery of the colour spectrum.

Astrid Sampe in her studio.

Lazy Lines

windy way 1954

Between 1954 and 1959 she created an impressive group of highly sophisticated, minimalist patterns, including Lazy Lines, Modular, Thermidor, Toros and Windy Way characterized by vertical stripes pierced at intervals by rhythmic diagonals or arrowheads.

Signed textiles Till date, her most significant contribution to Nordiska Kompaniet and to the world of textile design are the Signed Textiles (Signerad Tekstil). Keen to promote crossover between different disciplines, Sampe initiated the ambitious Signed Textiles collection in 1954 to which leading Scandanavian artists, architects and designers contributed.Well known contriibutors include Stig Lindberg.The most unusual participant was the nuclear scientist Theodor Svedberg who composed a pattern called Atomics showing electron configurations and deflection of charged particles in magnetic fields. The idea was to create a strict graphic collection of prints that would suit public interiors, both for big theatre-curtains and for small windows in ships and trains. The project took two years to prepare. The goal was to create something totally new available to the general public. The idea behind the project was that people feel good when surrounded by beautiful things.

The idea was to create a strict graphic collection of prints that would suit public interiors. Her ability to manage and involve many famous names also contributed to the success of this collection. Prior to this initiave, pattern designers were not given much importance in the market.


Astrid designed three patterns specifically for this collection.”Angles”, ”Soft Sand” and ”Thermidor”. ”Thermidor” is a simple and strict pattern, printed on a bleached halflinen quality with stripes in yellowish green, dark brown, orange and light brown. One of her renowned prints that are still printed and sold, it is an excellent demonstration of her strong graphic sense.

Lazy Lines

Soft Sand

Lazy Lines was originally produced in various colourways and marketed by Knoll International, Inc.This is was one of the examples of Astrid Sampe’s fascination with the relationship between textiles and modern architecture

Herb Garden, 1955

Herb Garden: The design was dedicated to another Swedish trendsetter , the ceramiscist Singe Persson Melan and features a graphic interpretation of his stoneware herb pots filled with spices and herbs with heads of cork.

Linen Line Project “Linen Line” by Astrid Sample signified a revolution for the Swedish linen cupboard in the 1950’s. All towels are made in the long-wearing quality 50 % flax linen and 50 % cotton, which withstands wearing by generations and only gets more beautiful as time goes on.

The Linen Line was seen as a revolution of the Swedish linen cupboard. The Linen Line was introduced at the prestigious H55, the Exhibition in Helsingborg 1955.This was seen as a revolution of the Swedish linen cupboard, initiated and created by Astrid Sampe. New sizes, patterns and colours of textiles for the linen cupboard, like napkins and tea-towels.In the 1950’s printed towels were quite new and they became very popular in Sweden especially Sampe’s Herb Garden.

Astrid Sampe designed prints for a number of Swedish textile companies like Kasthall and Almedahls.Prints like Herb Garden and Versailles are still produced and used to produce aprons, cushion covers and other home interior items.

Swedish modern A tradition based yet essentially modern style, it is characterized by the use of natural materials in preference to those such as tubular steel, a material synonymous with the Modern Movement. The objects were well designed, inexpensive to manufacture and affordable for most people.This style dominated international taste in domestic interior design after World War 2.Astrid Sampe is often credited with introducing Swedish Modern design to the world, when she designed the Swedish Pavillion for the 1937 Paris World Expo.

Astrid Sampe is often credited with introducing Swedish Modern design to the world. The term Swedish Modern, also referred to as A Movement Towards Sanity in Design, was actually coined by a critic at the 1939 Fair to describe Sweden’s interior display. It became a general description for all furnishings which together constituted the Swedish interior style.

It had already been seen at Chicago in 1933 and at the Paris exhibition of 1937, and its history went back to the early years of the century. The term “Swedish grace” was used to describe the products of the Swedish applied art industries in the 1920s and it is precisely this quality – the ability to lend grace to the mundaneness of life. Known as the pioneer of Swedish Modern, Astrid Sampe’s designs reflected this “Swedish grace”. As the head designer at Nordiska Kompaniet Textilkammare during the 1950’s she brought about an astonishingly bountiful era for pattern design. The passion for wild flowers was overtaken by an enthusiasm for abstraction, and Sampe entered her ‘Mondrianist’ phase, producing series of serene and minimalistic abstract-geometric designs.

Clockwise: Rya ,Untitled ,Windy Way, Vattring

Versailles, 1970’s

Versailles, an undualting optical pattern was one of the first patterns inspired by computers.

Astrid Sampe 1909 Born in Stockholm 1928-1932 Studied at Swedish State School of Arts, Craft and Design Stockholm 1935 Finished studies at The Royal Collage of Art in London Hired as designer at Nordiska Kompaniet (NK) 1936 Appointed as the head of NKs Textile Chambers

1937 Designed the Swedish Pavillion together with the architect Sven Markelius. for the Paris World Expo, introducing Swedish Modern to the world. 1939 Took part in the New York World Exhibition 1946 Arranged, along with Elias Svedborg, the “Modern Swedish Home�-exhibition at London Building Centre. 1949 Appointed "Royal Designer, Hon. RDI of the Royal Society of Arts

1951 Wove the first fibreglass fabrics. 1954 Participated in the Grand Prix Triennalene in Milan 1956 Received the "Gregor Paulsson statue". 1957 Demonstrated the interior design of a Swedish flat at "Interbau" in Berlin. 1959 Was given the task of fitting out the women's prison in Hinseberg and the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo.

Worked oh a number of other assignments by the Swedish Ministry of Public Buildings and Works.

Also appointed as the textile adviser during redecoration of Hotel Reisen, Stockholm, Stockholm Concert Hall.

1961 Commissioned by the United Nations to design carpets for the "Dag Hammarskjöld Library" in New York

Also appointed as the textile adviser during redecoration of Hotel Reisen, Stockholm, Stockholm Concert Hall. Adviser during planning and decoration of the new Borås cultural centre, theatre and museum.

Received the Order of Vasa 1963 Became a member of the American Institute of Interior Designers (AID) Arranged the exchange exhibition, "Living off Trays" between the Council of Industrial Design and Peter Jones in London and the Swedish Institute and NK. 1979 Started to make the first computer-based textile patterns produced in Sweden.

1980 Was awarded a medal by HM the King of Sweden Acted as adviser during decorating of the Speaker’s residence in the Swedish House of Parliament and the Speaker’s representative’s residence. Became an honorary member of KIK-STOK (the Swedish Association of Craftsman and Industrial Designers

1984 Given the honour of having her work put on display at the National Museum in Stockholm. "Astrid Sampe - Swedish Industrial Textiles"; The exhibition was later on show during the summer at Borås Museum of Art. Awarded the medal of the Friends of the Textile Art Association, founded by Sofie Adlersparre. 2002 Astrid Sampe passed away. Her designs live on.

Anjali Nair FC 5

Astrid Sampe  

A publication on the life and times of Scandanavian textile designer, Astrid Sampe.

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