Karin Mobring (1927-2005) was a Swedish designer best known for her work with IKEA. Born and raised in Östersund, central Sweden, Karin initially studied ceramics before switching to furniture design at Stockholm’s University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. She later studied under renowned Swedish furniture designer and master craftsman Carl Malmsten, where she learned about craftsmanship, quality, and comfort.
After graduation in 1951, Karin returned to Östersund to assist her father Arvid Persson, a civil engineer, with the interior design of his projects, which included apartments, homes, and offices. She continued to design furniture during this time, and in 1964, one of her wooden armchairs was displayed at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, catching the attention of Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA. Karin was subsequently hired to join the IKEA design team that same year, working alongside Gillis Lundgren, Erik Wørts, and Bengt Ruda.
In the 1966 IKEA catalogue, Karin made her debut alongside her peers, with several products designed by her, including the PEGGY highchair, NIRAK hall mirror, and INGRID chair. By the 1970s, Karin had become one of IKEA’s most productive and trendsetting designers. Her furniture design portfolio grew to include the LONDON series of chairs and footstools, the AMIRAL armchair, and the Krumelur armchair from 1972.
The AMIRAL armchair was particularly popular, featuring a steel tubing frame with the seat, back, and armrests made from high-end saddle leather from a local saddle maker in Killeberg. However, the saddlery couldn't keep up with the demand for the leather details, and the construction of the frame meant the chair couldn’t be flat-packed, so it was discontinued. Later, it returned in a flat-pack version, upholstered in canvas.
Karin's design style was rooted in classic, rural Scandinavian style, but she was also a versatile designer. Her portfolio of around 100 IKEA products included the TORPET chair, inspired by the traditional Windsor chair, the NATURA armchair, the KARUSELL coffee table made of particleboard, and the KATINKA chair and sofa in bent, lacquered plywood, designed in the popular 60s futuristic style.
Karin Mobring continued to work with IKEA until 1993. She passed away in 2005, leaving behind a legacy of iconic furniture designs that continue to influence Swedish design to this day.