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2020 was a year impacted by a pandemic that restricted us all in many ways. But even so, freedom and movement are in our thoughts when we look at Carl Angtoft's sideboard, which awarded him the Tormek scholarship for the year. Taking inspiration from the archipelago and the waves of the sea, Carl Angtoft's piece of qualifying furniture is as stylish as it is airy when we meet him at Malmstens Linköping University on the island of Lidingö.
Carl is passionate about cabinetmaking – but that hasn’t always been the case. "I wanted to become an economist really, that was what I was thinking. I studied social studies and economics at upper secondary level, but then I realized that wasn't what I wanted to do," he says, with just a hint of relief in his voice. That said, it's clear that Carl has an approach to his creative work that would do any engineer proud. When he's in the workshop, he immediately thinks of how best to repeat production of various elements using exactly the same methods and tools to achieve the very same results. "I'm really interested in the actual furniture production process, and how it can be optimized," he explains.
Carl's eye for detail comes to the fore again when he talks about the creation process that resulted in his beautiful piece of qualifying furniture. He estimated 300 hours for producing it, and that's what it took. Or 295, to be precise. Carl had to order a specific milling steel that he designed himself in order to produce the wavy contour. And he had to mill every piece not once, but twice in order to get everything to fit together exactly. But even though precision and exact dimensions are ideal, even Carl found it a bit much at times. "A lot of things have to be just right. There's a lot of precision involved. There's almost too much precision – I've almost gone overboard sometimes, because it was a qualifying piece of work." But with hindsight, we're grateful for every little millimeter of all that work because the results are utterly beautiful.
In the design, Carl wanted to run with the idea set out by Danish designer Hans Wegner, that a piece of furniture should have no back. "That's something I've always had in the back of my mind, the whole time I've been studying. So it had to be beautiful and work from all directions – that was part of my brief. My idea was to be able to use it in the room." explains Carl. That essence permeates the entire design, which he developed in collaboration with design student Anna Engvall.
Carl Angtoft's piece of qualifying furniture is the culmination of 7 years of study. He spent two years studying cabinetmaking and furniture design at Tau Learning, then two years at Stenebyskolan, and finally three years at Malmstens Linköping University. He came into contact with Tormek's grinding system during his first course at Tau Learning. That was where he learned all about the Tormek method, when he spent a week in charge of keeping the college's chisels razor-sharp.
Now, as the Tormek scholarship holder for 2020, Carl will be able to hone his grinding skills further. "You really can tell the difference with sharp tools. I use chisels and planes for the most part. I haven't done all that much turning, but I've started to do that a bit now and I'm going to start grinding my turning tools as well".
In the immediate future, Carl will be taking on a part-time position as a junior lecturer, offering a helping hand in the workshop at the university where he's just completed his degree. We can also follow him and his new cabinetmaking company on Instagram, where we can view the results of that passion and creativity that won him the Tormek scholarship in this very unique year.
The reasons given by the judges for the award are as follows:
Carl has created a sideboard with a stunning finish thanks to pinpoint accuracy, attention to detail and creativity. His qualifying piece of furniture, named Styrsö, follows a clear pattern, and Carl hasn't shied away from the incredible challenges posed by his work. The waves undulate, and so does this piece of furniture!