On View: 31 March 2023 – 3 September 2023

A Swedish fold with Joan Sallas

The world-renowned Catalan folding artist Joan Sallas has recreated everything from the royal folded napkin models of the European courts to the historical napkin folding of the Baroque era. Now Sallas presents a forgotten Swedish art of napkin folding, through Knut Erik Venne Höökenberg's preserved books on household and cooking from the 1850s. 12 unique napkin folds are displayed on the museum's parade floor.

Knut Erik Venne Höökenberg, born in 1808 in Arboga, lived mainly in Stockholm where he had a position with Brahe and at the same time was employed as a journalist at Hierta’s Aftonbladet. Höökenberg was a true multitasker who, for example, invented water skis, ran a technical factory and organized sports games from 1829 to the 1860s, which inspired "the father of Swedish sports" Victor Balck as a young man.

Höökenberg was best known for his last period in life when he travelled around Sweden and organized children's balls as entertainment for children and adults. He published books on subjects as diverse as household and cooking, Finnish black magic, games and card tricks, how to organize parties, what your gift means, like the language of flowers, fabric dyeing, fortune telling, dream interpretation and many other topics. He became the people's “councillor of amusement” and “minister of fun”, the father of the witch master, and was described as a good-natured and witty mischief-maker.

Image from one of Giegher's (1629) books.

Two of Höökenberg's cookbooks (published in 1854 and 1857) included a chapter with "Modern Napkin Breaks" where he collected 12 models from his travels around the country, with folding instructions. Some of these designs were made especially for French and Swedish kings, as status symbols. But even more, were to all the guests around the table who appreciated themes such as love, happiness, friendship, and free thoughts.

Finally, on the art of breaking napkins. During my travels in the country, it has often amused me to assist the noble matrons, either to teach, or to learn for myself the tasteful way in which they understand how to arrange the table, especially on festive occasions.


Magnificent folded linen

Joan Sallas is a true folding virtuoso, who has carefully researched and mastered the history and techniques of folding art. With the banquet table as the setting, his expertise and philosophy flows forth in the form of magnificent, folded linen.

Joan Sallas. Photo: Jens Mohr, Hallwyl museum/SHM.

Inspiration from Swedish cultural history

Each model is brought to life by Salla's hands and gives us an exciting insight into Swedish cultural history. The exhibition is displayed in the The Billiard Room on the parade floor.

Penséer. Foto: Joan Sallas.

About the folding artist Joan Sallas

Joan Sallas has folded napkins for a Queen of England and the Crown Princess couple of Sweden, Victoria and Daniel. He is the initiator of the project "Origami against the wars" in collaboration with art teachers in Ukraine, as the training of folding teachers and historical research on the art of folding are two of the most important points of his work.

He has been guest of honour at several international origami congresses and in 2012 he was awarded the "Prize for the preservation of the European cultural heritage" by the European cultural foundation "Pro Europa", whose chairman is I. K. H. Prince of Denmark. In 2022 he also received the David Lister Award from the British Origami Society.

A detail from a folded napkin.
Photo: Jens Mohr, Hallwyl museum/SHM.
29 March at 18.00

Events connected to the exhibition:

Workshop: Beautifully folded with Joan Sallas

Get ready for this summer’s parties and try your hand at the different styles of napkin folding! Take the chance to be taught by Joan Sallas, one of the world's most famous experts and a master of this special and somewhat forgotten art form.

Tickets workshop: Beautifully folded with Joan Sallas

5 April at 18.00

Lecture: Joan Sallas and folding napkins

A lecture about Höökeberg, and the remarkably unknown models of folding napkins he collected during his life in 1900th century Sweden.

Tickets Lecture: Joan Sallas and folding napkins

A set table with napkins and gold details.
Photo: Ola Myrin, Hallwyl museum/SHM.

Grand Dining at the Hallwyl House

In conjunction with the exhibition Joan Sallas: A Dining Room, we have a table on display that is spectacularly set for a dinner! Glasses, cutlery and gilded centrepieces have been brought out and polished to a bright shine to beautifully complement everything from menus to napkin folding and the crested porcelain.

Good to know before the visit:

  • Price: SEK 120 for adults. Free entry for children and young people up to 18 years of age.
  • Accessibility: To visit the exhibition you need walk upstairs in the museum. There is no elevator in the museum.

Plan your visit

In collaboration with the Embassy of Spain in Sweden: