The clipper conspiracy

This must be some kind of conspiracy: David Bartal wonders who is behind the mysterious disappearance from stores of standard, good quality nail clippers.

The clipper conspiracy
Photo: Iain

For over two weeks I have been rooting around hopelessly in cupboards and drawers, searching for a nail clipper. It is a trivial accessory, unless you happen to need one. I knew that something had to be done when my daughter admonished me: “Stop biting your nails, Dad. It’s disgusting.”

That comment, together with fears that I was turning into a werewolf, motivated me to take a bus to a local beauty supplies shop. But instead of the usual tidy chromed nail clipper on a beaded chain, the only option available was a brutal tool half made of plastic which appeared to be designed to trim the hooves of horses. It must have been imported from America, where everything is bigger: cars, bellies, budget deficits.

This same super-sized nail clipper was also the only nail clipper available at Coop Forum in Vinsta, where I sometimes buy groceries. Whatever happened to the practical all-chrome nail clipper of my youth, which featured a nifty retractable file? Why have those conventional, practical clippers been replaced with these 8 cm long beasts, which can swallow slivers of unwanted nail in their hollow plastic bodies.

Imagine my joy when I discovered what appeared to be a proper nail-clipper at a well-stocked shop on the grounds of Karolinska Hospital in Huddinge. The low price of only 15 crowns and its “Ms Kitty” brand name should have set alarm bells ringing. But desperation causes one to ignore obvious warning signs.

After bringing my prize home, it quickly became obvious that I had purchased an inferior clipper, so weak that the top leaf which serves as a lever bends almost double when I try to use it. This petite-clipper might be useful for trimming the soft and paper-thin nails of 3-year-olds, but for an adult male, Ms. Kitty didn’t cut the mustard.

Faced with a series of setbacks and bad weather, one is tempted as a stranger in a strange land to see the vague outlines of yet another conspiracy. Why am I singled out by the Swedish tax authorities for relentless persecution? Why does the price of crude oil go down, but the price of petrol constantly go up? Why do so many Swedish men go bald at age 30 (it’s a secret chemical in the water)?

There must be a secret clipper cartel which has decided to increase profits by crowding out the conventional nail clipper with a new and more expensive product. Oil companies or asphalt contractors have in the past conspired to control the market, so why not try the same sort of trick with articles used for personal health care? Thoughts of Matrix-like simulated societies and deals made in smoke-filled rooms were flowing through my brain when I found myself outside a branch of the Åhlens department store in the newly remodeled Vällingby shopping center.

Anticipating disappointment yet again, I made my way through Åhlens’ racks of lipstick bullets, perfumes with seductive names in fancy bottles, and products which promised to make my tired hair lively, shiny, bright, flexible, strong and vibrant.

The SUV fingernail clipper was there as expected, but beside it on the same rack—Hallelujah! — was the much beloved standard chrome nail clipper of my youth, with no plastic parts. It doesn’t have a beaded chain, but it restores my faith in humanity.



Five questions about Formex and Nordic design

The largest Nordic design fair, Formex, kicks off on Wednesday. We asked Project Manager Christina Olsson what to expect.

Five questions about Formex and Nordic design
Photo: Formex

The semi-annual interior design fair Formex takes place January 18-21. But what's it all about? We spoke with Formex Project Manager Christina Olsson to find out. 

What exactly is Formex? Why should people go?

Formex is the largest meeting place for Nordic interior design. Visitors get information about trends, inspiration and knowledge in the form of exhibitions and lectures.

How and why did Formex start? What is its purpose?  

Formex started in 1960 and is held twice a year, in the beginning of January and in the end of August. The purpose is to be the most important meeting point for Nordic interior design, fashion and accessories.

There is a large focus on Nordic Design – the largest in both number of exhibitors and in size of designs, and not to forget unique craft from the Nordic countries.

What can visitors expect? Is it only Swedish design? Nordic? International? What different types of exhibits are there?

It is Nordic design and we have 800 exhibitors and 20 000 visitors. The fair brings together national and international buyers, agents, designers, producers and media from all over the interior design and gifts industry.

What is new or different at this event, in January 2017? 

All inspirational areas and quest exhibitors add new ideas and can hopefully give your visitors some new and inspiration for their upcoming work.

Some of the young designers at the event. Photo: Formex

Can you name five “highlights” of the event, perhaps particularly unusual or interesting exhibitors this year?

You will find some new guest exhibitors, such as the showing of Carpets as design objects. The aim of the exhibition is to display rugs that have different artistic expressions in terms of their material, technique and pattern. The rugs in the exhibition have been made by architects, artists and designers.

Also there is Sashiko  – a old Japanese technique in handcraft. 

Sashiko, which was developed in the 600s and 700s in Japan,is both a decorative reinforcement stitching and functional embroidery. In the exhibition at Formex, traditional Sashiko patterns from northern Japan meet Sashiko modern fashion patterns created by Scandinavian designers. 

And of course two large inspirational exhibits are those showing the theme Nordic space and the three trends: Austronautica, Monlith, and Milk & Flowers.

The Young Designers area is always interesting –there you can see young ad upcoming designers presenting their work.

Check out the Formex website to learn more

That's all from Christina Olsson. But want a little more Formex?

One of the many designers at Formex this year is Viktoria Månström, with her line of products Anna Viktoria. She has quickly become a leading designer in Sweden.

”Everything I design has a Scandinavian touch and a modern design, built on Swedish traditions,” the designer says. “I take the past of Sweden and bring it into the present.”

And they're covered in modern Swedish art, such as reindeer and elk.

“I actually started with the Dala horse. I come from Dalarna so it felt like the right place to begin.”

While the Dala horse is a classic Swedish symbol, Månström's version is a perfect example of contemporary Scandinavian design – clean, simple, modern and unique, mixing colours and patterns in an innovative way without looking too busy.

And of course they're made beautifully and sustainably.

”My products are truly Scandinavian; products that convey Sweden. And they also last. They're items you can really use in everyday life.”

Check out the Formex website to learn more