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It was a feast for the eyes and the ears at this year’s Stockholm Furniture and Lighting Fair, as exciting new products and talk of sustainable practices came hand in hand.
Celebrating an impressive 70 years, the fair is still the biggest meeting point for beautiful Scandinavian design, as well as featuring a few new faces and innovative standout pieces.
As the industry grapples with the ever-increasingly significant topic of climate change, there was a noticeable sustainability theme once again throughout this year’s fair and for many designers there was a genuine sense of authenticity when asked about their plans around sustainability and carbon-efficiency. Several designers we spoke to talked of moving away from presenting new collections and instead focusing on the extension of existing lines and improved production methods, as well as the resilience and longevity of their products. We also noticed plenty of versatile and multi-functional furniture, as well as multi-purpose and collaborative workspaces.
There was a new layout for the fair this year, as design and contract furniture moved to an expanded Hall C – an obvious sign that Scandinavian design is as popular as ever, thanks to its craftsmanship, focus on materiality and deep-rooted style.
Here are some eye-catchers that we couldn’t resist mentioning…
The star of the show at Offect (now part of Flokk) was an exciting fusion of the minimal styles of Scandinavia and Japan through collaborations with Tokyo designers Teruhiro Yanagihara and Jin Kuramoto. ‘Maki’ (pictured above) – by the latter – was a particular highlight; a striking and fun shape created to stand alone and as part of a system in different formations. Inspired by a Maki roll, the unconventional shape, with an open hollow in the back, was a production challenge, and a testament to Offecct’s craftsmanship. ‘The form is based on minimalism and rationalism, a design culture that is common for Japan and Scandinavia, while its scope of use is expanding towards a free diversity that is increasingly sought after in various public environments,’ said Jin.
Offecct also introduced a re-edit of the classic Speigel Panel from Verner Panton, as well as collaborations with David Trubridge, Mattias Stenberg, Daniel Debiasi and Federico Sandri.
At this year’s fair, Herman Miller created four zones – Work, Meet, Lounge and Host – to showcase their diverse and iconic range of products, as well as introducing the new universal and customisable Civic table (above) from Sam Hecht and Kim Colin. Speaking to Sam and Kim, they explained that the new collection focuses on harmony across the workplace, home and hospitality, as well as answering the need to create a unique identity for each client. Customisation options for the table are expansive, including a new trapezoidal-esque shape for screen sharing and desk collaboration.
‘It’s nice to have congruency across open floorplates – usually, the way in which tables are now specified, is that a designer goes to a company for coffee tables, another for conference tables and another for café tables: they all come from different places. Their job is to try to get them all their work together as one identity,’ Kim explains. ‘What we did here is create enough variety to get the desired shapes and materials, but the tables can work in all those different environments – so in an open floor plan you have continuity.’
The Pedrali stand was designed by Milan based architecture studio Calvi Brambilla, featuring beautifully colourful sets influenced by workplace and hospitality – aptly named the Pedrali Palace of Wonder.
Pedrali focused on some new additions to their existing collections, including Jazz and Folk looking forward to Milan 2020 for their big product launch. The Folk collection by CMP Design was a particular highlight – a beautifully simple chair with a colourful and distinctive aluminium ring, which enables the chair to be easily disassembled for recycling purposes or to replace its components.
We spoke to Monica Pedrali, discussing Pedrali’s strong commitment to environmental sustainability. ‘It’s important to us to create products that can be disassembled, allowing longevity to the products. This is important to us not only in terms of resistance but also style. We like styles that are timeless, with a little bit of tradition, and innovation. In 20/30 years, we can disassemble the components and relacquer, reupholster and give the product a second life.’
Similar to the message we are hearing from other designers across the market, the focus here is not only on materials but the process and the possibility for recycling. ‘To us, materials are not a limit but an advantage. We can use a mix of materials which allows us to use less raw materials, and in a more responsible way. With Folk, the mix of metal with wood allows us to use less solid wood and create a more lightweight and resistant chair.’
‘We say that everything is 100% made in Pedrali, as everything is made in house in our two factories in Italy. We have control of the full supply chain – and that’s a huge advantage as it allows us to offer a wide range that can be custom-made in a short time, which is perfect for the contract market. From corporate to hospitality, every project is different – and designers can personalise the products’ colours, size and materials.’
Polish giant Nowy Styl focused on how people experience workspace in a very authentic (and almost spiritual!) way. Nowy Styl showcased collections from their recently acquired brand, Kusch+Co, each created to respond to changes in the modern office environment.
We spoke to Justyna Hodurek, Global A&D Manager. ‘When we take a mindful look at our everydayness, it turns out we are living our lives in a constant haste of an overstimulated urban jungle responding to omnipresent technology. We need to stay motivated and productive. And of course, there is nothing wrong about being motivated or productive, but still, we do seek some balance, connection with nature, with surroundings, with inner selves.
‘Workspaces are now designed for agility, for flexibility, for triggering creativity, but we wanted to create a space that would be a soothing experience empowering people.’
With the Creva table, Nowy Styl didn’t want to create a usual formal meeting table. Instead, they wanted to offer a solution that would be inviting, providing a facility where people would love to come together and collaborate. At the same time, whenever somebody needs some privacy to concentrate and work on their own, it is possible to create a sheltered microzone by changing the position of the table panels. An antidote to the open plan office dilemma?
Skandiform introduced four new collections at this year’s fair, each a lesson in minimal scandi-design, with a twist. Highlights were Twig by award-winning designer Johannes Lindner – a modern chair with a curved seat topped with a dowel, giving the option to stain and upholster. Bolero by Nina Jobs is a soft seating range with soft, wide shapes and customisable options that wouldn’t look amiss in hospitality, office or at home. ‘I created Bolero with forms of expression such as dance and fashion in mind. The name is a nod to the little jacket that is worn outside your clothes – functional and practical with the chance to create your own look in a room,’ said Nina.
The Soft Top chair family from New York designer Brad Ascalon initially started with four chairs but now has some new companions. With two new bar stools and three new benches – where a tabletop joins together one of the benches – Soft Top makes taking a break a little easier. And a little more comfortable, according to Brad.
‘The original challenge we gave ourselves on the Soft Top chairs (launched in 2018) was to create a stacking chair (and armchair) that had a fuller, cushioned sit and a sense of whimsy or character generally not associated with a stacking chair. We wanted a chair that felt both familiar and novel simultaneously, like an old friend that perhaps you haven’t seen in some time, but regardless you pick back up where you left off,’ Brad told Mix.
‘We didn’t want to pigeonhole the design into a specific environment. In the end, the chairs were designed to reside equally well in a private office, waiting area, corporate café, hotel or hospitality setting, as well as education and residential environments and beyond. We felt that this approach would truly create a differentiation for Skandiform, for my studio’s own portfolio and for the greater market as a whole. The development of the Soft Top extensions, which we recently launched at the Stockholm Furniture Fair earlier this month (bar and counter stools, and three bench variations) further tell that story, while filling in additional functional gaps that the stacking and armchairs could not.’
Designed by brothers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, the Rope chair from Artek was one of our personal highlights of the fair, resembling a 3D line drawing rather than a solid structure. The rope is created for marine use, and is the main focus of the chair (which is unexpectedly comfortable!) and is the weightbearing part of the construction, allowing the chair to adapt to the user’s frame.
Commenting on the chair, Artek said: ‘Where other chairs dictate a specific way of sitting, the Rope chair invites creativity in posture, encouraging dynamic movement and changes in position. When the sitter rises, the chair’s frame bears the traces of the body it last supported, the imprint of a user who codefines its shape.’
Arper focused on their sustainable journey, introducing two chairs created from recycled post-industrial materials: the Duna 02 Eco and Juno Eco. The message from the Italian brand is honest and realistic – with the hope of creating an open dialogue and transparency with their products and production. The end result is intended to reduce the environmental impact of the whole process – from material extraction to manufacturing and eventually recycling.
‘We want to explain our journey: what we’re discovering and our achievements (and failures!) in sustainability – above all we want to be transparent about what we’re going to do – it’s the only way to talk about sustainability,’ said Giovanni Peracin, Global Marketing Director at Arper.
The Duna 02 Eco is made of 80% recycled post-industrial material with wooden legs, and the Juno Eco is a fluid chair cast from a single form and made from 70% recycled post-industrial plastic. ‘At the same time, it’s not only about materials – not all of our products are made from recycled materials but the way we are producing consumes less energy, and we produce products that last 20+ years,’ explains Giovanni.
Designers Jesse Visser, Robert Bronwasser and Studio Suolle have been working with the design team at leading Dutch company, Jess (now available in the UK through Jam Junction), the results of which are new models Jazz, Tray, Shuffle and Zipp. The (already) award-winning Shuffle range, which consists of sofas, a new dining chair and a chaise longue, really caught our eye in Stockholm.
‘It was designed by Robert Bronwasser and provides our collection with an invigorating twist,’ Maarten van de Goor, Director at Jess Design says. ‘The Shuffle has its own striking look and it fits in perfectly with our existing and continuous collections.’
Materia had a wealth of fun and flexible furniture to introduce this year, including a stool that encourages the body to move and keep active. The Rocca stool has a colourful and simple design, as well as being easy to carry around the office, allowing for easy collaboration and flexible working. Designed by Alexander Rehn, the stool was created as part of Materia’s Newcomer award. ‘Nowadays we really spend a lot of time sitting at our desks, often working all day without moving very much – I wanted to change that,’ said Alexander.
The Danes (the clue was in the title!) launched The Pair, by Studio David Thulstrup, at this year’s fair. This stylish side table collection consists of three variations of a pair of tables – with one table overlapping the other to create a contrast of solid materials and surfaces. The lower base table is uniquely crafted in glazed ceramic, while the higher table is made of matt powder-coated steel. The base table can be placed either beside the higher table, providing an additional surface, or to create storage in between. We like.
This year, Kinnarps did not present new products or collections in Stockholm, but instead focused on the sustainable process and circular economy that goes into their production and design. The focus for the leading Swedish company this year was to show the resilience and longevity of their products. ‘If you create the right products and use the right materials that are suitable for that environment, you can use the product for a longer time and expand the sustainability circle,’ said Ann Cederwall, Director of Global Marketing and Communications at Kinnarps, showing us a chair used since 1994 that had definitely withstood the test of time. ‘We are working towards our climate neutrality goals for 2030, but we also want to show how we work with sustainability every day.’
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