Ylva Källström-Eklund – Beloved children’s books motives from the 50s given new life as wallpaper pattern

Written by Sandberg, 27 October, 2016


Ylva Källström-Eklund (1933-88) was born in Stockholm. Her father worked as a manager in the pharmacy sector, while her mother was a housewife in the newly-built functional-style family home. Ylva started drawing as a young girl, and submitted her drawings to newspapers and competitions. In the 1950s, she studied at the Beckman School of Advertising and worked as an advertisement artist. This was the time of school band jazz, when young musicians recreated the New Orleans jazz of the 1920s with the enthusiasm of punk rockers. It was the time of batwing chairs, army duffle coats and dreams of Paris.


Her dramatic red hair made people call her “Brenda Star”, since she looked like the glamorous cartoon heroine and film star. Ylva created dust jackets for books and illustrated children’s books in a personal Fifties’ style, including the popular song book Våra visor (1957-60) with texts by Lennart Hellsing and others. From the early ‘60s, along with her husband and three children, she lived in the countryside outside the town of Uppsala, in an unmodernised house furnished with antiques. She continued working to the background sound of the Beatles, noisy children and barking dogs. She produced textile designs and illustrated numerous children’s books, song books and record covers for Gullan Bornemark. With the introduction of the new edition of the standard school reader “Nu läser vi” (1970), her soft 1970s-style drawings would put their mark on a generation of school children. Ylva continued to work with school books, posters and advertising material until her death.


Drömstigen - Thanks to modern art and increased travel in the post-war years, African art made it to Sweden. African-inspired ornaments, music and sculptures filled the shelves. Ylva`s dust jackets reflected these style trends. These dust jackets have now been turned into screen-print wallpaper named after Drömstigen Street in Bromma, where Ylva spent her youth and created many of her Illustrations. 


Hagalund - In the ’50s, Ylva designed rhythmical hand-drawn dust jackets in the fashionable colours of brown, black and white. A version of one of the dust jacket sketches has now been reborn in Sandbergs’ wallpaper factory. Hagalund is named after a working-class area of Solna, where Ylva’s future husband, Thorild Eklund, led a bohemian life in a summer house.


Våra visor - The pattern is based on Ylva´s dust jackets and illustrations for three song booklets from the late 50s, which were amalgamated into the book Våra visor [Our songs] (1960). The authors of the book included Lennart Hellsing. Ylva’s illustrations are spontaneous, graphic and filled with clever details. The book was used in schools for many years. Sandberg is proud to give new life to these clever characters from famous Swedish children’s songs.