The much anticipated opening of the Kvänum San Francisco kitchen showroom took place on November 12 at 526 Washington Street in downtown San Francisco. This is the first US store for the renowned Swedish furnishing firm.
The close to 200 guests that attended the event inspected Kvänum’s latest kitchen, bathroom, and wardrobe solutions while enjoying fine wine by Gundlach-Bundschu and Swedish hors d’oeuvres from Smaak catering. Barbro S. Osher, Consul General of Sweden, presented the opening speech and welcomed the firm to San Francisco after which Stefan Jonsson welcomed the guests to Kvänum’s elegant new SF showroom. Jonsson is one of three brothers that own the Swedish mother company, founded in 1923 by their grandfather Gustav Johansson.
SACC-SF’s reporters had the opportunity to chat with Stefan Jonsson and Kvänum San Francisco’s showroom owner and designer Natalia Nordström before the opening event. “When my grandfather founded Kvänum, the company manufactured wood benches,” Jonsson says, “but as time went by the business evolved more towards cabinet work, and still to this very day the majority of the Kvänum’s products are made by hand.”
Natalia Nordström, who has more than a decade’s experience working with interior design, told us that she was fascinated by Kvänum’s unique “old world” design and craftsmanship, which she felt was something that would do very well in the USA.
“So I decided to contact Kvänum, and today, here we are,” says Nordström. Stefan Jonsson adds, “When Natalia called I agreed almost immediately to open up a showroom in San Francisco. We want Kvänum to be present in exciting places, and San Francisco is somewhat of the design capital of the west coast.”
Kvänum’s San Francisco showroom focuses on kitchens. Relatively unique to this store is that it offers the customer both contemporary and traditional kitchens. According to Natalia Nordström, it’s more common that interior design companies focus on one or the other. In either case, a Kvänum kitchen is designed for people to cook in as well as to socialize in. “Kitchens should not only be for show,” Nordström said and the visiting Kvänum owner nodded in agreement.
Both agreed that Swedish and American customers’ desires are similar, though kitchen appliances tend to be larger in the U.S. than in Sweden. This is of course accounted for at Kvänum San Francisco, as is the fact that more U.S. customers prefer classically styled kitchens, whereas Swedes prefer more contemporary solutions.
Did the owners ever consider substituting the more typical English ‘a’ for the Swedish ‘ä’ when selling here in the USA? And Jonsson was quite determined that, “no, that is such an integral part of the company’s history and identity that we could never compromise.”
In this time of climate change and going green it was inevitable to ask about their environmental policy, and according to Stefan Jonsson, Kvänum has a strong focus on making its products as environmentally friendly as possible. The company minimizes the wrapping used when transporting the goods and use only materials that are environmentally friendly. “But most importantly,” Jonsson said, “our kitchens are extremely durable, designed to be used for decades, and that is what really makes us environmentally friendly.”

Reported by Jonas Lönnqvist