We had a severe case of FOMO when we realised that, due to hectic schedules and imminent deadlines, we weren’t going to be able to visit one of our favourite events of the year – the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair.
However, there’s no fear of you lovely readers missing out, as we were able to commandeer a merry team of expert industry pros, who were happy to give us their views on the show.
And this leads us to the first of this year’s trends. It appears that quite a few more visitors from the UK were in Stockholm this year – including a strong number of specifiers and a few superstar dealers to boot – but we’ll leave the real trend reports to our friends in the know (and in the snow).
The fair now attracts around 40,000 visitors, whilst around 6,000 foreign buyers, architects, designers and press from more than 60 countries travel to Scandinavia’s premier event.
Approximately 700 companies, of which 300 are international, exhibit in Stockholmsmässan’s 70,000 sq m. Furthermore, around 80% of all of the exhibiting companies come from Scandinavia.
Keeping with the Brit theme, this year’s Guest of Honour was top British design studio Barber & Osgerby – who also designed the impressive, eye-catching lounge for Stockholmsmässan’s Entrance Hall. Speaking of design, the official winner of the Best Product Award for 2016 was the w164 Alto for Wästberg, designed by Dirk Winkel, whilst the Best Stand Award went to Foscarini.
But who and what really stood out for our expert team? Let’s start with our good friend Ben Capper, who knows his furniture inside out, and has swapped the freezing climes of his new home in Switzerland with…well, the freezing climes of Sweden!
So, favourite products Ben? ‘The Gärsnäs Julius chair and sofa by Färg and Blanche.Founded in 1893, Gärsnäs are renowned wood master craftsmen, known to produce high quality, often reserved and slightly traditional furniture. For the Julius collection, designers Färg and Blanche developed a revolutionary technique they call ‘wood tailoring’ to stitch the wooden panels of the backrests together, resulting in a unique blend of Gärsnäs craftsmanship and their pioneering design. Simply put – there’s nothing else like this.
‘The Offecct Montparnasse Easy chair by Christophe Pillet – who took inspiration from ordinary camping furniture, then added elegance, quality and an understated modern design to produce the Montparnasse chair. You can see both sides of its design journey just by looking at it – the initial ‘campsite’ inspiration and then the refined and transparent underframe which gives a timeless feel. Very comfy too!
‘Also, the Bla Station Honken Armchair by Thomas Bernstrand + Lindau Borselius. Bla Station are known for wacky designs. Maybe they are toning it down a bit, or maybe I’ve really grown into them. This comfortable and spacious easy chair/workstation is fun, quirky and cool. Designed with longevity in mind, the frame can be resprayed and re-upholstered after it reaches the end of it’s (first) life. Bang on.’
So what was your favourite stand/product display? ‘Tough one. Just because it was so different I’ll go with Gubi. They covered a lot of the material trends I expected to see such as marble tops, copper, brass and black frames, but added their own unique spin. Thick rugs, opulent velvet, burgundy accents and striped fabric upholstery. It actually reminded me of a 60’s American hotel scene film set. I also enjoyed the Gärsnas stand as their new products were different and groundbreaking, but fit so well for them as a business. A kind of natural evolution. Other great stands included Hay, Abstracta, Kvadrat, Bla Station, Offecct and Foscarini, for me.
And overall impression? ‘Loved it. Nicely busy but not too much and I enjoyed the size of the show. Big enough, but we’re not talking Milan or Cologne, so you don’t go furniture-blind. As it’s not too big you bump into pals in the cafe for a chat and a break. Transport to the fair from the city was fast and easy too, which helps!
‘As you’d expect the fair itself was Scandinavian led – and these guys use the show to launch their new products.
‘As far as trends go, there were lots of lovely wooden frame chairs (as you’d expect in Sweden!) the colour burgundy (see my blog!) every stand has a barista (no complaints there) acoustic panels everywhere, hints of art deco themes and lots of 50’s and 60’s style.
‘Any negatives? You’d think after a winter in Switzerland I’d be used to the cold, but on the Friday as I trudged around Stockholm in wind and snow showers I found myself pining for Milan in April. Great city, great show – just take a great jacket with you.’
Check out Ben’s own full review of the show at www.furniturestrategist.ch
‘The Stockholm Furniture Fair was fantastic!’ Edith Galloway from Fabric Interiors and Architecture enthuses, ‘so many amazing things to see and write about.
‘Swedish design company Bolon created a beautiful stand that was the highlight of the fair, with a new piece of art and design to discover around every curve. The stand was created in collaboration with acclaimed London based design duo Doshi Levien, merging art and flooring with the launch of the new collection of Bolon By You. The stand brought to life the possibilities of the bespoke customisation of Bolon, with stunning results.
‘Classically Danish and continuing the tradition of good design, By Lassen is a design company that owns the rights to the creations of two Danish architects, Mogens and Flemming Lassen. The company mission is to release design icons that have been brought to life from the back catalogue. My pick was the stunning new icon ‘Saxe’ folding chair in leather with brass details. The designer was inspired by the German design school Bauhaus.
The launch of Pallisade collection by French designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Hay was another highlight. The outdoor furniture collection was presented on the outside wall of the stand and had all the visitors to the fair looking up. The curving slatted surfaces of the furniture were refreshingly simple in contrast to the colourful stand within.
‘There were so many great stands at the fair, and one of my favourites was the Design House Stockholm – the publishing house for Scandinavian Design. Essentially a beautiful collection of Scandinavian design, each piece is something you want to own and was displayed at the fair with accompanying striking graphics. ‘So many great stands exhibited with style and elegance. The Scandinavians are known as the masters of monochrome and we weren’t let down, but there was a noticeable lean towards vibrant rich colours with &Tradition showing off beautifully styled vignettes in bold colours of orange and blue.
‘The fair was busy, gaining momentum throughout the day, with all the exhibitors I spoke to mentioning how busy it was over the last few days. I expected to be wowed by great Scandinavian design and it didn’t disappoint – I came away with great inspiration, products and new suppliers.
‘The unexpected surprise of the fair was the student exhibition in the Greenhouse – with such a high calibre of work, it impressed everyone. I took away a few names to look up – one to mention was the winner of the Rising Star award, Studio Bey.’
Jo Casselle, Senior Designer/Associate at HLW was also impressed by Bolon’s latest offering. ‘My favourite new product was Bolon’s By You. Bolon have released six different new designs, of which Geometric, Lace and Stripes would be my top three. The striking Stripes design makes the flamingo orange weft appear neon in certain lights and the Lace design is unlike anything I have seen before for contract use. Lace is verging on the domestic market, a market trend that is increasingly infiltrating the commercial contract market.
‘I was also excited by the Bolon stand as its imposing height really drew me to it – so different to any of the other stands around it.
‘The show was great, it was different to other fairs I have recently attended as it was a very manageable size, full of good quality products – not only commercial furniture and lighting but domestic too.
‘It was busy, but not too busy, with plenty of space to walk around and view the products with attentive (but not overtly so) sales reps.
The continuing trend of copper, velvet, green and blue hues was still prevalent, however Gubi, probably one of the first companies to showcase this trend, have moved away from these slightly; their stand was painted in a strong ox blood colour and had more toned down neutral colours – as leaders, perhaps these colours could be the next big thing?
Rosalind Poerwantoro, Senior Interior Designer at tp bennett, was just as taken with the lighting on show – and Flos Lighting’s products in particular. ‘Simple in the way they were displayed with really clean lines,’ she tells us. ‘I loved the Jasper Morrison lamp that played with light temperatures to create different ambient lighting effects. It resembled a piece of jewellery, really elegant and striking.
My favourite stand designs were Hay – brilliant use of colours and styling, with a clever use of space – and & Tradition. I loved the use of natural stones, stained timbers and metals.
‘I was really impressed by the Greenhouse student hall – really striking innovative ideas from students that I can’t wait to see out on the market. Loads of copper, electric blue and peacock greens – this seemed to be the trend, as well as an emphasis on planting, which was a real highlight for me.’