Elsa Beskow and the designer Catharina Kippel

This text is from a folder from Design House Stockholm about the Elsa Beskow collection

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From the Elsa Beskow collection

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From the Elsa Beskow collection

Elsa Beskow was born in southern Stockholm in 1874. There were five children in the family. Her father died when she was 15 and her mother took the children to live with her unmarried siblings who shared the same household. Elsa’s aunts and uncle became the models for Aunt Green, Aunt Brown, Aunt Lavender and Uncle Blue. From 1892 to 1895 Elsa studied to become an art teacher and it was at this time that she started illustrating children’s stories.

She married Natanael Beskow, a clergyman and artist. They lived with their six sons in Djursholm, north of Stockholm, and the family often provided inspiration for characters and locations in her stories. Elsa Beskow’s first book ‘Tale of the Little, Little Old Lady’ is based on stories that her grandmother told her and was published in 1897. To this day it remains a classic story that most children have read.

Her stories and her illustrations were a dominant influence in the world of children’s books for more than 100 years. Her books have been translated into more than 20 languages and many of today’s children’s authors and illustrators have been inspired by her art. In 1952 she was awarded the Nils Holgersson Prize for her lifework and today there is a prize for children’s authors in her name.

The stories of Elsa Beskow have been interpreted by designer Catharina Kippel, who has used ‘visual quotations’, or details, from the original stories and brought into her work. Catharina has been collaborating with Design House Stockholm since the beginning, and is the designer behind much of the bestselling dinnerware. She has studied pottery and glassblowing in Sweden as well as ancient ceramic firing techniques in Japan, and has a master’s degree from Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Crafts, and Design in Stockholm. Since 1995, Catharina runs her own studio in Gustavsberg’s old porcelain factory, and her work is represented at Nationalmuseum in Stockholm and the Porcelain Museum in Gustavsberg.

“Like many others I have grown up with Aunt Lavender, the Little, Little Old Lady, the Morel Troll and all the other fantastic characters of Elsa Beskow’s fairy tales. It was a wonderful feeling to daydream about these worlds, and I still feel the same excitement when I think about them. One of my favorite books when I was a child was ‘Woody, Hazel & Little Pip’ by Elsa Beskow. My dog, a playful boxer puppy, ate a part of the book, but I kept reading it over and over again. It’s still kept in my parent’s home in Lund in southern Sweden.”

Read more about the Elsa Beskow collection

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