Craft education at Steneby is rooted in the Swedish handicrafts revival of early twentieth century when a return to traditional knowledge and techniques in craft education were promoted by Carl Malmsten at Nääs – an internationally renowned centre for the development of Swedish slojd approach in teacher education.
Erland Borglund, who attended Nääs in the 1920s, soon began to collaborate with Malmsten and developed courses in woodwork for teenage boys in Dals Långed. Steneby Hemslöjdsföreningen was established in 1929 and became an important focal point for the preservation of local craft knowledge, particularly straw craft which had been an important cottage industry in Dalsland since the years of famine and mass emigration in the 1860s. Craft training was seen as an important antidote to the social problems associated with the great depression of the 1930s. Soon, handicrafts from Dals Långed were being exhibited at international exhibitions in Stockholm and London.
A school was established in 1934 with Borglund as rector, with the first modern building of the campus, a functionalist-style student dormitories and a cafeteria – opening in 1938. By the advent of the Second World War, the school offered courses in weaving, straw craft, carpentry, wood carving, turning, painting, bookbinding, ironwork, ceramics, tailoring, house construction and interior design.
After the second world war, the school became integrated into the Swedish state system of education and new buildings were added throughout the 1960s. In 1991, Stenebyskolan started operating as a foundation and has developed a focus on preparatory art and vocational education.
spin-off effects I Dals långed
Since the early 2000s, Dals Långed has offered university-level education in the fields of metal art, furniture design and textiles – with degrees certified by the University of Gothenburg. This has brought investment to the school, including the construction of our state-of-the art forge and digital technologies in the wood workshops and the expansion of textile facilities. Over the years, the school has become gradually more integrated with the Artistic Faculty and closely collaborates in sharing knowledge and educational opportunities.
Following a trend towards socio-economic decline in Dalsland during the late twentieth century, the cultural center Not Quite, and the recently established studio and co-working space Studio Växt are show that our university educations have spin-off effects that benefit the local society and economy. In the twenty-first century we have renewed our commitment to Borglund’s mission of pursuing crafts and design as a socially important activities that can benefit our surroundings, both locally and internationally.