Stockholm is a popular destination. And so is its Furniture Fair. For designers, too, paying a visit to the far north is anything but an obligation, and this is evidenced by the open, nonchalant demeanor on display. At Hay, Richard Hutten chats with Sebastian Wrong, Inga Sempé presents her new luminaire for Wästberg Jaime Hayon, while Monika Förster, exhausted from the “Elle Designers of the Year Award” is happy to collapse onto her new sofa at Fogia, plus you glimpse Mårten Claesson, Eero Koivisto and Ola Rune on several occasions as they take a stroll along the exhibition highways.
Despite the atmosphere being vibrant and dynamic it still succeeds in retaining that easy-going flair so typical of Scandinavia. Visitors know that they won’t miss anything as the fair is a manageable size. Mind you, this year you have to rethink the accustomed layout as the halls have been divided up differently. None of the manufacturers have kept their usual spot and the industry’s “big names” are now likewise located in Hall B. This enterprising move is met with appreciation. Dick Spierenburg from imm cologne comes by and praises the fair’s open structure and the casual atmosphere with which the individual segments have been reshuffled. Moreover, special exhibitions such as “Inside Scandinavian Design”, curated by Färg & Blanche, and “Twelve”, in which 12 established designers permit a glimpse of their prototypes, make for trailblazing perspectives. And as in previous years, young design talents and universities have been assigned a separate zone known as “Greenhouse”, whose “Agora” was masterminded by Note Design and where people are milling around like ants.
It stands to reason that Scandinavian manufacturers should present their latest output here and so we duly set off and, notwithstanding the changes in the layout, viewed, tested and analyzed the top designs in chairs, armchairs and sofas. And selected a dozen we felt were worth taking a closer look at.
A new satellite in the office system
Several attempts to rethink the office could be seen at Stockholm Furniture Fair, with the Scandinavians taking the lead in creating a healthy work climate as regards both social and aesthetic aspects. Offecct in particular deserves a mention, demonstrating once again this year that the office can be so much more than the place where work gets churned out. Alongside many captivating innovations by major international names such as Christoph Pillet, Michael Sodeau, Eero Koivisto, Jasper Morrison and Studio Irvine, Richard Hutten also demonstrates that he is capable of doing offices. His lounge chair “Satellite” looks like a circular and very flat office swivel chair. The satellite aspect is apparent as soon as you sit on it – as demonstrated by Richard Hutten in person. Not only can the chair be turned, so too can a small orbiting table (for smartphones or tablets) that is affixed by a bracket to the base. Guests at the Offecct party that evening proved that Satellite not only motivates Richard Hutten to perform gymnastic exercises with it.
Forging a link
It really is incredible the amount that brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have managed to produce recently. Take their “Uncino” chair for Mattiazzi, for example, and the tables of the “Officina” series for Magis, which both received very positive reviews. Now the Bouroullecs are continuing their work with steel elements. In other words, they are flattening the forged rods of “Officina” and working with strip steel. For Artek the brothers have developed an entire system based on a flat, bent steel element. “Kaari”, meaning “arch” in Finnish, refers to the metal bracket that supports the tables and shelves made of laminated wood. Altogether “Kaari” encompasses ten models, circular and rectangular tables, a desk and a modular wall-mounted shelving unit with optional desk panel. Naturally it is no coincidence that “Kaari” ideally harmonizes with Artek’s Alvar Aalto portfolio, and to make that perfectly clear the Bouroullecs had their new product photographed with the Old Finnish Master’s tea trolley, stool and “Paimio” armchair. The triangular element links the two very successfully and “Kaari” does not in the least look like any kind of update or extension of Aalto’s designs, but an independent line. Even fellow designer Stefan Diez compliments the execution on Facebook.
Of pointed hats and magicians
There is no-one in contemporary Swedish design more influential than the successful trio Mårten Claesson, Eero Koivisto and Ola Rune. And as such the three architects not only make an impressive appearance at the Stockholm Furniture Fair with a new sofa system at Offecct (Eero Koivisto is Art Director), but also at Wästberg. After models such as the “W081” table lamp and the “W131” pendant lamp, they have now designed the “W151” ceiling luminaire line for the Swedish lighting supplier. What is special about the line is the magnified, precisely geometric and familiar cone shape of the oversized lampshades in three different radii (diameter 440, 760 and 1350 millimeters). These jumbo luminaires have been popular for several years particularly as eye-catchers above large dinner or conference tables, and as such Wästberg is also looking to meet this demand, explains Anna Wästberg. On the stand in any case the giant red and orange aluminum cones primarily call to mind the pointed hats of magicians, such as Claesson Koivisto Rune – which incidentally conjured up its own small range of accessories the evening before the fair.
Erik Jörgensen stretched out his feelers to Stockholm – and got Monica Förster on board his project. With “Savannah”, the Swedish star designer presents a sofa that in Erik Jörgensen’s view is set to become a Danish design classic of tomorrow. The design is accordingly reserved, elegant, with characteristic rounded wooden elements and flat, slightly rounded upholstery through which the wooden frame protrudes. You could almost think it were a re-edition from the 1950s – and you do sit rather upright and admittedly somewhat staidly on “Savannah”, as was customary in the past. It is not evident at first glance that this modest and calm item of upholstered furniture claims a complex manufacturing process. They even needed the help of a retired carpenter to complete the two-seater sofa in the factory in Svendborg. With its meticulous manual production method and modest habitus, “Savannah” is definitely in with a chance of being a worthy successor in the ranks of modern Danish classics. Only the name is somewhat misleading – and is perhaps intended to disguise the fact that there is some Swedish DNA in the Danish piece?
Small holes for an intriguing play of light and shadow
Architects and curtains – that’s never been a match made in heaven. And we have the architects’ penchant for smooth surfaces and unobstructed windows to thank for the demise of the curtain, which has in recent decades been replaced by alternative solar and sight protection systems. But is this really necessary? Danish textile designer duo Mathilde Aggebo and Julie Henriksen began to ponder this question in preparation for their design for Kvadrat: white curtains that are anything but old fashioned and lend rooms an additional poetic note. To this end the designers laser cut a vertical strip of tiny holes in the 100-percent polyester curtain. It almost looks as if they used an ordinary hole punch for the process, especially as the fabric has a paper-like appearance and is prone to creasing. Once “Drill” is up the light piercing through the minute holes creates an intriguing play of light and shadow on the floor.
Swedish soft as cream
Test-sitting at Swedese: I sink into “Diva” by Staffan Holm. Only I want to get up again. You feel extremely safe and it is so soft it feels like ... no, there is no comparison! Aside from the extraordinary manner of sitting, visually the sofa causes a stir. You’ll either like it, or you won’t. With its curving forms, its tips and the forward-leaning backrest it seems like a throw, a cloak being undone. As such it takes up the principle, extremely popular at present, of the shell, similar to “Haiku” by Gamfratesi for Fredericia (presented at the fair as a three-seater sofa). It is entirely possible that this kind of sofa is intended to embrace us at times when we are looking for and need warmth and a feeling of security. It could also be, of course, that Staffan Holm simply played with whipping cream. Whatever the case, “Diva” is a spectacle and an attempt by Swedese to create an upholstered armchair and sofa beyond minimalism and retrospective. The only shame is that Holm put this extravagance on standardized round wood feet.
It looks somewhat sleepy and almost a little pitiable, the “NJP Table” lamp by Studio Nendo for Louis Poulsen. In the glow of the numerous innovations, stagings and designers personally presenting their products, this lamp leads almost a shadowy existence at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. It is a shame, because it has the ability to be a trade fair highlight. Only after precise questioning does it emerge that the lamp is to be launched this spring for the contract market and that Studio Nendo and designer Oki Sato oriented the design on the typical architect’s lamp with a swivel arm and conical shade. “NJP Table” likewise boasts this flexible mechanism and the shade can be moved in various directions. A small opening in the end of the shade moreover permits light to enter and brighten the surroundings somewhat. Yet it wouldn’t be an Oki Sato/Nendo if it didn’t give a cheeky wink: Does the shade not look a little like a nightcap? Indeed it seems fitting that the lamp automatically switches off after four hours.
A new set of legs
In addition to Andreas Engesvik and Stefan Borselius, it is also Kristoffer, Alexis, Johannes, Susanna and Christiano of Note Design Studio who have given Swedish brand Fogia a new image in recent years. Now the five young designers from Stockholm, who this year are represented at the fair with six new products, the design of the Young Talents area and a major evening event, have brought out “Sling” for Fogia. As “Sling” comes pretty close to the good old lounge chair in your grandparents’ house, the five have put it onto thin metal tube legs, thus giving it a fresh twist. All in all an uncomplicated, pleasant piece of furniture that effortlessly blends into numerous ambiences.
A worm-seat, anyone?
How narrow can a chair be? Pretty narrow, if you take the new “Poppe” by Stefan Borselius for Blå Station. “Poppe” could be a kind of worm, winding and stretching up into a chair with a particularly high backrest. A completely nonsensical, but very humorous piece. And a real Borselius to boot, who also designed “Oppo”, the 2009 cult armchair by Blå Station resembling the Michelin Man. You could say “Poppe” is “Oppo” on a diet. Surprisingly “Poppe” is pretty comfortable, which however is to be expected from this designer – Borselius has made a good few items of seating furniture in the course of his 15-year career. Incidentally, “Poppe” is the product of an extraordinary collaboration – in conjunction with the “Experiment 2015” project Stefan Borselius worked together with co-designer Thomas Bernstrand and Blå Station chief Johan Lindau. On the whole all pretty crazy and actually typical of “Blue Station”.
Like walking on water
Designers at the Swedish company Bolon know very well how to use flooring as an attractive design element. Sisters Annica and Marie Eklund now head the firm in the third generation. They are passionate followers of fashion – a fact reflected in their collection of woven vinyl floor coverings. With “Flow” Bolon is presenting a new line whose transparent warp thread gives rise to an iridescent surface. Even though the association with water, which Bolon proclaims with its marketing slogan “An ocean within”, is not immediately obvious, the floor covering is exciting and can do a lot to pep up a space. Moreover, the underside of the flooring is made from 100-percent recycled material, namely the company’s own production waste, which Bolon processes using newly installed equipment. “Flow” is available rolled or as tiles in a new gingko-leaf form, which when laid creates an abstract undulating image.
Bee buzzing in a calyx
Extra tall backrests continue to be a hot topic when it comes to office sofas and comfy chairs – almost all manufacturers include them in their ranges. With “Petals”, the new chair by Stone Design, Skandiform demonstrates that tall backrests also work well in unusual places. Stone Design is made up of Cutu Mazuelos and Eva Prego from Spain. And “Petals” indeed lives up to its name – the oversized backrest lends the high-backed chair a throne-like quality. A second model comes with a divided backrest to create the look and feel of a calyx – a most comfy enclosure for bees keen to suck a few drops of nectar. And another association springs to mind: Could it be that the Swedes, given their quirky sense of humor, are already gearing up for Easter now that Christmas is over?
Braced for a smart back
Frederik Färg and Emma Blanche are being touted as highly promising talents in Swedish design. Five years ago the pair opened a studio in Stockholm, and two years ago impressed people with their fresh interpretation of the “Emma” chair for Gärsnäs – today a great success. For Johanson Design the duo have now designed a stackable upholstered chair called “Frankie”, which boasts an extremely attractive backrest, whose upholstery is held in place with a Y-shaped steel brace. And indeed Fredrik Färg uses the word “braces”. The chair is ideal for non-residential use, providing seating for concert halls or conference rooms. Johanson Design, which made its name as a yacht outfitter and also operates in the non-residential business, considers “Frankie” a highly promising candidate. But are the braces not simply superfluous ornamentation? Frederik Färg explains that chairs’ rear views often define a room. Looking at it that way it makes sense.