In 1949, Nils „Nisse“ and Karin “Kajsa” Strinning designed the String bookshelf for a contest initiated by Bonniers Folkbibliotek (BFB) who wanted a flat-packed bookshelf to be sold with their books. The Strinning entry consisted of two wall-mounted plastic-coated metal wire ladders and three shelves. The President of the BFB was so impressed that the Strinnings got themselves a production deal before they even won the contest.
Initially called the BFB Shelf, it was first produced with blue-coated iron ladders and shelves of untreated pine. Nisse Strinning prefered shelves of dark wood such as mahogany and walnut with constrasting ladders in white to give the impression of floating shelves. Shortly, the noble woods were replaced with veneer from teak and elm. In the 1960s also rosewood and white varnished wood were added.
The varied shelving system became an instant success and an epitome of 1950’s Scandinavian furniture, perfectly suitable for the small living spaces which were customary in Europe at the time. Not just a shelf but a modular system which came flat-packed and easy to transport for self-assembly, it was affordable and could expand and change over time with each new apartment or growing library.
In 1952, String Design AB was founded in order to meet the demand, and in the following years new items made from coated iron were added to the portfolio such as tables, lamps and coat racks. The same year a free-standing version was launched, though Strinning allegedly disliked it, as well as String Plex with ladders made from transparent acrylic.