Poul Cadovius and Cado wall units: History and collecting guide

We learn about the two very collectible types:
‘Royal System’ and ‘System Cado’

vintage cado wall unitContinuing my research into midcentury modern shelving systems, Cado “floating” wall systems are now also in my sites. Like the String System that recently profiled, Cados are Scandinavian-designed — and they are hot collectibles. Unlike Strings, you cannot get them new today, so you must be on the lookout. You know how I say that at estate sales, you need to look to the windows for potentially lovely window treatments? Well now, I add to that list: Look to the walls for potentially valuable shelving systems. Above: Christa’s Cado Wall System. Continue for more views of her Cado… for historical info about this wall system… and for shopping tips.

cado shelves

Christa’s Cado wall system:

Christa writes:

Hi Pam –

I don’t have the String system, but the similar, all wood version of the Cado system…interesting that such similar ideas all were designed at around the same time .

cado wall unitI ended up getting mine from CraigsList, but it did take months and months to find it.

The reason…well my wonderful mid century split level has some floors that are, well, wobbly if you walk to hard…especially the dining room. My vintage blonde china cabinet was great, except that every time somebody walked by it, it would sway and things would clank and clunk inside (it made me afraid for my grandmother’s china!)

So a teak Cado system, that attached to the wall ( they have floor standing ones as well) Solved the problem. Too bad the wobbly floor itself is not so easy to fix!

This type of system is so flexible (actually have Elfa in my daughters room and our study) and can work just about anywhere you want to put it!

cado shelf unitsI took these a while ago, I have done some “tweaking” since I took these,  especially with the Viking glass, ( LOVE Viking Epic…I have gotten slightly addicted) I got some more pieces, I move things around…it is a constant thing.

I have another wall-mount and one other cabinet for the Cado, but as you can see, two bays were all I had space for or need , but I have them safely tucked away in case I change my mind and want to put this somewhere else.cado shelf unitThe “down side” to this (the Cado)…actually getting it on the wall…if your measurements are not PERFECT, the dowels on the back of the cabinets will not go in the holes.  I learned that my studs are not straight in the walls…as if I got the upright in a stud at the top, it would not go in a stud at the bottom.  It took about 4 hours, 3 people,( myself, DH, and a very patient and tall friend ) several bruises each and much cursing to get it up.  I would assume that when the system was new there was some sort of template, so you could easily get things lined up, but those are long gone I fear.

Thank you, Christa, for sharing these photos and advice. Your home is drop dead gorgeous!! Readers, check out Christa’s etsy shop, The Red Retro Shop, here.

About the Cado wall system

I went searching all over the internet trying to piece together a timeline history of the Cado system. The timeline is incomplete, I note* where I am missing info or am confused.

  • According to the 20th Century forum, the official name of this design is the Royal System. Although then I read there was also a design called System Cado. Confused*. In any case, these were designed by the Dutch architect Poul Cadovius, and manufactured by Cado, Cadovius’ eponymous company.
  • I found a Wikipedia entry for Poul Cadovius. It appears to be in Danish, and the translate pop up is not popping. However, I think I can read that Cadovius died just last year, 2011. He lived to age 99! I also am going to guess that the Cado wall unit was spotlighted (introduced???) at the Milan Trienniele in 1957? Can anyone translate for me?
  • I scanned the Wiki on Danish Modern Design — and he does not seem to be mentioned. It is interesting — the Cado wall units seem to be very popular — very well known — but there is very little information I can find overall on Poul Cadovius, Cado manufacturing, and the history of these units.
  • At Made-Good — a site about Danish design — they describe the impetus of the Royal System:  “Poul Cadovius, was in the fifties looking for a furnishing system which would give a maximum of comfort, underline the personal atmosphere of the interior, was easy to assembly, offer a lot of combination possibilities and made the living space larger.” They add that, “In the late 60s [1964, another post indicates] he (Cadovius) (als0) bought the famous manufacturer France and Sons and produced many more furniture under the label of Cado.”  Cadovius/Cado went on to produce a variety of other furniture designs.
  • This Design Addict forum says the first Cado was a freestanding system — they have a photo — and that it was designed in 1955. Design Addict also has a classifieds section that indicates that the Cado system was available in a number of woodgrains — teak, walnut, mahogany, rosewood… — as well as white. You can also see the variety of components.
  • The Good Mod adds that, “These systems could be ordered from catalogs and furniture stores in the 1960?s – 70?s. There were many different types of cabinets, shelves, lights, standards or uprights and styles. Whether you needed a desk, a table, a stereo cabinet, china cabinets or a chest of drawers, you could customize the system to fit your needs.”

From Roche-Bobois

  • Looks like Roche Bobois started distributing the Cado system in 1962. [I’m confused about when Cado manufacturing came into the picture.] Note, they say it marks the end of conformity in shelving sizes, “The break in conventional sizes has just begun.”
  • On this forum I read that there are two designs of the Cado system — one with metal fixings, one with wood. Here is an edited excerpt: [One design] has the metal fixings and supports which hang in the sides of the wall battens. Here is a clear example. [The other design] has wooden supports with angled wooden dowels in the back which fix into angled holes in the front of the wall battens. (Christa has this all-wood system; here is another clear example. The joinery involved means these systems are often considered more desireable. This also means it’s a nightmare to put up as there is zero tolerance. The [system with metal fixings] is much more forgiving and is easier to find. *Still confusion over which was called Royal System vs. System Cado. Confused*.
  • I cannot find any information on when sales of the Royal System ended.
  • Interesting article — more info about Poul Cadovius’ career here. A photo too. Scroll to “The Story Behind Circulhuset” about half way through the PDF. In short, she says Cadovius was a well-known and prolific designer, with 400 patents. She also says that Cadovius had gone bankrupt by 1981.
  • abstracta tableBut golly gee, looky here, the Cadovius’ Abstracta modular shelving, designed in the 1960s, still is for sale — looks like it’s manufactured in K-zoo! That’s Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Elvis still lives, btw. The Abstracta appears to be mostly targeted at the retail display market, but there are a few pieces designed for home: The cube table! Of course, we all recognize the cube table!

And… how’s this for some loveliness — a video that shows the original turntable and speakers:

Cado wall systems buying guide:

My tips:

  • Cado systems seem to be well known among dealers and collectors. They are very recognizable to the infomed — which now includes you. However, that means, that if a dealer or collector gets one in-hand, he or she will price it accordingly — likely starting at $1,000 or more, depending on the pieces available and the condition.
  • If you are looking for a bargain, I’d say try estate sales and vintage stores, especially those in smaller cities or towns where they be fewer buyers tuned into the mid mod. Look to the walls! Keep your eyes peeled! I tend to think that Cados were pretty popular back in the day — they are out there to be discovered.
  • You can also watch craigslist. Search Cado, teak, danish modern, midcentury, shelves, wall unit… etc. Mix up your terms. For example, I spotted this unit for sale in the New York City area, and the seller gave me permission to feature the photo here:

Cado wall system with desk, $1250 (link now gone):  Beautiful and practical Danish modern teak wall system designed by Poul Cadovius. This system as shown in the photos is particularly rare as it comes with a separate drop-leaf desk. The condition overall is in good condition with a few scapes and bumps that comes with age.

  • You can also find Cado wall units on ebay and etsy — but you will likely not be able to see what you are buying in person, of course.

So there you have it: Cado wall systems. Paol Cadovius, well done!

Readers — I welcome your additional info and insights about Cados.

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  1. Alfredo Catani says

    I sold so much Cado back in early seventies that I won a free trip to factory in Denmark .Cadovious hosted and gave us all tours of factory as well as dinner parties. He was so gracious and had a magnetic personality.Great guy,great trip,wonderful memories!

  2. Alfredo Catani says

    Forgot to differentiate between Cado and royal system.Cado shelves are supported by wooden brackets and Royal System shelves are supported by metal wire brackets. The systems are not interchangeable.

    • David dru says

      What was the spec for how much weight or load one could safely put on those wood slats? On mine i am able to get one of those slats (middle one of 5) screwed into a stud with the others into the drywall with molly type bolts rated for 100 lbs each.

  3. Pat Futch says

    I have a 5 bay Cado wall unit that I began purchasing in 1962 from Wilson Furniture in Sacramento. Bought additional pieces through the years from Scan Design. Still as beautiful and functional as the day it was purchased. We were a military family and moved a lot. The wall unit always fit wherever we lived…even if we had to break it into two units. Today it is a single unit that adds a lot of impact to my large living room. Love Midcentury Modern.

  4. Stuart says

    I stumbled across this site and hope someone can help. I have a Cado wall unit that includes the bar cabinet. The mortise lock has broken and I cannot find a source for one that matches in dimensions. Any information I can get on obtaining a lock that will fit the mortise in the bar unit door will be greatly appreciated.


  5. says


    If you’re twice lucky, Alfredo may still be watching this site and since he’s a veteran in the world of Cado he may have a clue…..if…

    As for this veteran, no real definite help. Might suggest trolling though the fine woodworkers hardware sites. That is a simple piece of hardware and can’t believe that a dead-on replacement isn’t somewhere…



  6. says


    Try “Woodworkers” or “Woodcraft” in the search line.
    Both have what appears to be close to what you’re looking for.

    These showed up when I looked for “cabinet locks”.
    Good luck!


    • Stuart Slutzman says


      Thanks for the reply. I trolled all the woodworking and restoration hardware sites I could find more than once. Issue is the key pin (keyhole) on the factory lock is not centered and the setback is 1″. All the locks that come close to the physical dimensions have a centered key pin (keyhole) and the setback is only 3/4″.


  7. says


    Yeah, that’s my life story too…
    Since Cado is Danish (metric) have you looked at any European hardware sources? The lock had to have been “stock” not custom made, so probably the 1/4″ you’re dealing with is a metric variation. We also dealt with a Canadian manufacturer who sourced in Europe so maybe up there.

    Don’t know where you are but I’d start with any store selling Scandinavian imports, get their sources’ names and then try them. That lock is somewhere and probably not far!


  8. Alfredo Catani says

    The wall unit in this photo is not Cado. It is Royal System.
    The party selling it is not knowledgeable about what he is selling.
    Cado uses wooden brackets to support the shelves and
    Royal System uses metal supports as shown in the picture.the difference between the two systems is very distinct and obvious.
    Alfredo Catani

  9. Lorna McCracken says

    I am replacing three or four dowels in the back of my CADO cabinet unit. You mentioned the diameter as well as drilling out the holes, in one of your comments, but not the length. How long should the dowels be cut to match the existing ones in the unit? Very important that they are all the same length for mounting.

  10. Elinor says

    Is there any way to know if my hanging bar is an Cado? The wall mounts are wood, it is stamped Made In Denmark on the back. It looks like Paol Cadovius Royal System. How can we know? The piece was purchased in Libya in the 1960s. We have four pieces, a large wood shelf, a small wood shelf, a front open bar piece and a piece with sliding glass doors and one glass shelf. We want to sell the piece, my husband’s mother was the purchaser in the 1960s. Whats the best way to go about selling it? Thanks for any input you can provide.

  11. Dave says

    The system shown on your page is not the Royal Cado System. This system used wire ‘hangers” for the shelves. The system you show is the Cado System where each shelf was hung via “V” shaped wooden supports. Each cabinet was hung directly onto the posts via 3 wooden dowels set into the cabinet at a downward angle. I have such a Cado System, in teak, that I bought new in Germany in 1969. I’ve used it in every home I’ve lived in since then.

  12. Fran says

    My parents purchased a similar line of wall units “Veggen De Luxe”. I thought it was Royal Systems but my sister sent me written material – all in Norwegian! – that identify the designer as Bruksbo. My Dad’s Navy career sent us to Oslo in the mid 1950’s. They have both passed, each of their 5 adult children ‘inherited’ a section of the wall units. My pieces include two long vertical poles and three cabinets: one with two doors, one with one door that opens downward, and a lighter colored bar. Can anyone help with the installation process? My siblings received alot of shelving with the brass hangers, I have small metal plugs. The cabinets, even empty, are heavy, so hoping my son can install into a plaster wall, finding at least one stud. Royal Systems has an installation video but I can’t find one for Bruksbo Veggen De Luxe. Appreciate any help!

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Fran, this is pretty in the weeds. Perhaps another reader is following this thread and will know something about Bruksbo… what fun!

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