Royal System shelving, designed by Poul Cadovius in 1948 — reissued by dk3

Walnut-midcentury-wall-unitVintage Poul Cadovius wall units can be difficult to track down and hard to install, especially when pieces have gone missing over the years. That’s why we are thrilled to hear that this popular and versatile shelving — first designed in 1948 — is in production once again. A tip from reader Jason led us to the Royal System shelving units available at Design Within Reach, made by dk3 using Cadovius’ iconic original plans.

mid-century-wall-shelfFrom the dk3 press release:

ROYAL SYSTEM shelving system and Poul Cadovius (1911-2011)

Company Profile :
”The true aesthetic is natural, not man made”

dk3 creates uniquely designed furniture that is shaped by nature and crafted by true enthusiasts. Always with a focus on personality, pride and sustainability. dk3 is the manifestation of the owner and founder, Jacob Plejdrups vision. A vision to unite classical carpentry traditions with modern furniture design through the fusion of timeless steel components and raw solid wooden planks. The love of the organic material and uncompromising approach to quality is present throughout the process. From the first design sketches to working in our own carpentry shop in Denmark, where the furniture is finished and surface-treated by hand. dk3 consists of two main collections: The Contemporary Solid Wood Collection and the ROYAL SYSTEM® shelving system – designed by Danish designer Poul Cadovius in 1948.

The ROYAL SYSTEM® shelving system:

cadovius-wall-unitA world famous bookcase classic is revived Poul Cadovius’ unique shelving system ROYAL SYSTEM® was on everyone’s lips in the 1950s and 60s. dk3 has now acquired the rights to revive the legendary furniture classic. ROYAL SYSTEM® shelving system was designed in 1948 by legendary Danish designer and manufacturer Poul Cadovius.

mid-century-office-shelvingIt was one of the world’s first wall-hung furniture systems, and the idea that furniture should not use floor space was innovative: “Most of us live on the bottom of a cube. If we put the walls even with the floor, we get a lot of space to live on” was the mantra of Paul Cadovius. ROYAL SYSTEM® was then ground breaking because of the wall-mounted concept, its light styling and the many individual combinations and the furniture system therefore went from success to success both in and outside Denmark. There have been made many attempts to copy this famous design, but ROYAL SYSTEM® is and remains the original.

mid-century-modern-shelfretro-cadovius-wall-shelfcadovius-shelvingmidcentury-wall-unit-drawersAs this timeless storage system was designed in 1948 Poul Cadovius, his idea was that the Design expression should be light and reflective, and that the shelving system should be constructed to individual needs. ROYAL SYSTEM® was then produced at Paul Cadovius’ factory in Randers (Denmark), where up to 300 men were employed. ROYAL SYSTEM® was also produced under license in more than 30 countries and is considered one of Danish furniture history’s greatest successes ever. In 2010, dk3 re-launched the ROYAL SYSTEM® in contemporary materials such as walnut, oak, and compact laminate with steel or the original brass hangers.

oak-cadovius-shelvingcadovius-deskmid-century-shelvesROYAL SYSTEM® can be ordered individually as a classic bookcase, modern desk or library with different cabinet modules. The system is not only ideal for the living room or home office – large commercial interior design projects have used ROYAL SYSTEM as well. The timeless spirit of ROYAL SYSTEM® is preserved through the well known stringers, hangers, shelves and beautiful cabinets. And all of excellent quality, created for modern interior design and future needs.

The designer of the ROYAL SYSTEM®:

Poul-CadoviusPoul Cadovius was born in Copenhagen in 1911 and was originally trained as a saddler and upholsterer. He was a colourful and successful designer with a marked influence on the Danish furniture industry and furniture design – both in his own time and later. In 1948, Cadovius designed the shelving system ROYAL SYSTEM®, which through the 50s, 60s and 70s perhaps was the largest furniture success Danish furniture industry has ever had.

cadovius-wall-desk-shelfCadovius-wall-unit2mid-century-laminate-wall-shelfdetail-midcentury-shelfPoul Cadovius is one of the most colourful and successful personalities in Danish furniture industry’s history. “Architect, designer, self-taught inventor, manufacturer, innovator, the furniture industry’s ‘enfant terrible’ – the titles are many”, as the author Henriette Houth writes in her book ”Kassebogen”. Poul Cadovius was an ambitious and constantly seeking person. When he didn’t design or produce furniture, he was driving racing cars or building luxury yachts at his own Saghitta shipyard in Svendborg. And the stories are many: When a sailboat customer claimed bad sailing-performance on a Saghitta 35 from the yard, Poul Cadovius gave the ultimate retort. He borrowed the boat and sailed ”around Zealand” – and won.

Poul Cadovius managed to take out over 400 patents – the last as a 90-year old. Both his life and designs testify to a genuine figure that went his own way – to the delight of us all.


  • Design by: Poul Cadovius, 1948
  • Produced in Denmark
  • Rails: H100 or 200 x D3 x W1,9 cm.
  • Shelf width: H1,9 x D24 or 30 xW80 cm
  • Cupboard: W80 x D38 x H42,4 cm.
  • Wood: walnut, oak or HPL
  • Hangers in stainless steel or brass


The question likely on many people’s minds — will pieces from the new Royal System shelving fit vintage Cadovius shelves? On this matter, dk3 PR spokesperson Ann Plejdrup says:

It is important to mention, that the new and the vintage parts are not compatible! Because of the modern production and machinery today, there will be small technical differentness in the dimensions.

Royal-shelvingCadovius-laminate-wall-shelfThe Royal System shelving units are pricey. But, considering the difficulty in finding vintage today — plus the fact that these reproductions appear to be careful, licensed reproductions — made in Denmark — we understand.

See all of our stories about shelving here.

  1. virginia says:

    How I wish I could have these as part of my world! So many great uses. Also just to say that, after many months enjoying this fabulous site, I just cottoned to the displays of wall decor available in other chapters. Just fantastic.

    I also ended up, bad bad bad Pam, ordering up some of the 70s mirror tile — super excited about that. We have a built in banquette and table in our otherwise small kitchen and I’m looking forward to installing them along two of the walls that frame the window above the little table.

    The shelving and the fotos are exquisite. Mindblowing to think that was being created as early as 1948 — but the Danes are always ahead of the curve.

  2. ElectraChime says:

    Love these!

    I managed to snag an original set at a thrift shop. It was all in pieces but when I got it all home, everything was all there. There were seven standards and about twenty shelves, a desk unit and a wide angled shelf along with all the original brass hangers.

    Five standards with shelves and the desk unit dominate my living room wall. I keep a giant dictionary opened to whatever word I looked up last on the tilted shelf at reading height.

    I also have two standards with five shelves in my den.

    They really are ingenious, although you have to be careful with the hangers and to not overload the shelves or your stuff will take a tumble!

    Still they are uber functional and sometimes I just sit on my couch and study them for a few minutes and then get up and rearrange my knick-knacks.

    After seeing this, I now know who made them! They are one of the few things in my house that isn’t Mid Century Modest.

  3. SD Amy says:

    I have been looking for a vintage one for years… Although these are pricey, it’s great to see they’re making a come back!

  4. Paula Webb says:

    I became obsessed with wall units while we were buying our house and eventually was lucky enough to score one (3 standards, cabinet, desk and many shelves) on Craigslist in Portland OR. They pop up all the time and I saw one earlier this week.

  5. Kelley says:

    Beautiful… but so expensive! Would love to see an article on other options that are similar in style for wall units on a budget.

  6. Kim Tuck says:

    I have an original set that my Godmother left me when she passed back in the 1990s. I remember her having these hanging when I was a small child in the 60s. One day I will send photographs along with a photograph of the actual brochure she had in her files when she purchased this set. I have always loved them and the couple of times we have moved I have removed it from the wall before we listed the house. No way would I ever leave this treasure behind. Delighted to know it is back in production since I also have a few small shelves she used in the kitchen for her cookbooks which I have not been able to hang since I am missing a few parts!!

  7. pam kueber says:

    I added a link to all of our stories about shelving, at the bottom of the story…

  8. We saw two sets of these in two weeks, at two different estate sales.

    We live in a 1925 craftsman cottage, so our walls are divided up with plate rails and picture rails, and whatnot.

    We did pause to admire them and hoped that someone would give them a good home.

    I keep wishing that you might waft over to our blog. Our house is a bit early for you, but the kitchen and bathroom date to the late 40s, and we’re keeping them in that period, because it’s both adorable, and a lot easier to find 1940s stoves and toilets than 1920s ones.


  9. Maryann says:

    I have been using a wonderful set since 1971. I just need a few little studs. And maybe a few more shelves…

  10. Tina says:

    We bought a beautiful DK3 Royal system by Paulo Cadovious . We recently moved and have lost all of the fittings and brackets. The manufactures don’t make them any more . Does anyone know where I could buy some from please ????

  11. Matthew says:

    Just bought a set but my studs are not at the same distance as the rails need to be! -anyone have experience installing these in dry wall without aligning the rails with the studs? That requirement makes it an extremely limited piece, unfortunately.

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