Otto, a Swedish Westphalian
“This furniture is an exercise in minimalism,” says Mårten Claesson. “Designing it, we left almost everything out, with the emphasis on almost. Something has to remain for the furniture to be vibrant.” The German manufacturer Flötotto is presenting the result of this balancing act by Mårten Claesson and his two partners Eero Koivisto and Ola Rune for the first time at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2017: a boxy, yet graceful family of upholstered furniture called “Otto” and comprising sofa, chair, and ottoman. The whole thing is a premiere for Flötotto, as to date the family-run company from Germany’s eastern Westphalia region has primarily been known for its versatile profile system and its chairs and tables from the “Pro” collection designed by Konstantin Grcic especially for schools and universities.
For Managing Director Frederik Flötotto, however, this push in the direction of upholstered furniture is only logical: “Educational facilities are changing. There are more lounge areas in schools, for teachers as well as students,” he says at the company stand at the Stockholm fair. And Flötotto had a very clear idea of the sort of furniture that suits the school environment: “It had to be something classic, something that would be enduring, but with this or that surprising detail.” It is clearly an idea the Claesson Koivisto Rune trio from Stockholm shared, as the collaboration was very purposeful, uncomplicated, and fast-moving.
The designers also picked up on the desire for striking details, integrating them in two places in particular: On the one hand the upholstered backrests feature bold stitching, which gives it a homely touch at first glance, while on the other the upholstery appears to be resting on an oak frame. Though the substructure is hidden in places, the visible part with its rounded corners and delicate feet gives “Otto” a certain lightness. “As a designer you have little freedom with this type of furniture,” explains Mårten Claesson in the designers’ Stockholm studio. “The proportions and details are all you can work with. It looks so easy, but is actually difficult. You really do need to have experience to design furniture like this.” It cannot be too boring, or too expressive, he adds.
The brand-new “Otto” collection will be launched later this year and will be available with cover fabrics by the German manufacturer k+r Textil. “The fabrics are made in Germany,” Frederik Flötotto says, “which was important to us.” Flötotto is having the furniture manufactured by a company in the neighboring town.
Incidentally of course, nor does the firm by any means just envisage the sofas and chairs in schools. Fitting out micro-apartments, for example for students, is another of the company’s fields of business. “You can add a lot to micro-living with upholstered furniture,” Frederik Flötotto says. Yet he has his eye on private customers as well: “There has been demand for this type of upholstered furniture for some time now. It is an addition to our system furniture.”