Stockholm Furniture Fair: Sit down and smell the coffee

As just about everyone has started to feel the effects of the economic crunch, young designers are repurposing old materials and questioning the ways we live, writes Charlotte West. The message is clear – sit down, slow down and enjoy a cup of coffee.

Stockholm Furniture Fair: Sit down and smell the coffee

From lamps made out of zippers to chairs fashioned out of spoons, the products on display at the Stockholm Furniture Fair’s Greenhouse – a platform for freelance and student designers – showed creative and playful use of materials, as well as an interdisciplinary approach to design.

Several of the young exhibitors seem to have caught a wave of nostalgia, including Fredrik Färg, a recent graduate of the School of Design and Crafts (HDK) at the University of Gothenburg. Promoting the idea of “slow fashion furniture”, his RE:cover collection is inspired by classic menswear. Färg uses old chairs and replaces the backrests with mouldable polyester felt that becomes a supporting structure when baked in a big oven. The foldable backrest on his “Coat” chair, for instance, resembles the collar on a men’s jacket.

Like Färg, Maria Sandberg explores timelessness with Family Tree, a “contemporary interpretation of the patchwork quilt,” which was part of HDK’s “Beautiful Death” exhibition. With the middle section made out of remnants from a textile factory, bits of personal fabric can be placed along the edges of the quilt.

With “Coffee ceremony,” Martin Horgan is another designer who advocates slowing things down. Rather than a single surface, the table has five smaller trays that are only big enough for a glass or cup. There isn’t enough room for a laptop, and the design encourages people to concentrate on the coffee and conversation.

But while some promote slow and nostalgic design, others work according to a “speed furniture concept.” Israeli design studio Godspeed, for example, makes furniture out of waste wood repurposed from the many traditional carpenters in their Tel Aviv neighborhood within a time limit of one hour. The result isn’t always pretty, but it does show how material can be reused in an interesting and functional way.

Reuse and recycling are also recurrent themes throughout Ung 7, an annual juried, travelling exhibition open to young designers, either Swedish or working in Sweden. “Decades”, a chest by Anna Irinarchos and Lisa Widén of WIS Design, is made of old drawers the pair found at flea markets. Another example is “Keep”, by Petter Thörne and Anders Johnsson, a table made out of waste material from a furniture factory and bound together without glue using leftover metal strapping from timber deliveries.

Designers such as Emma Marga Blanche, a French woman based in Stockholm, also remind us of the importance of fun. Her products include a “magic folding candlestick”, a half umbrella lamp and a portable picnic stool remade from old baskets. With a similar sense of whimsy, Erika Lövquist’s Water Lily is a ceiling lamp that reaches the floor. Other examples of impish design are the work of Jonas Wagell, whose Symbio lamp and Bold wall clock bring nothing but smiles, and Smånsk’s Neo Rococo chest of drawers.

As in previous years, the Greenhouse broke the monotony of the Stockholm Furniture Fair, where really interesting commercial products are hard to find. If this year’s crop of young designers says anything about the future, it’s time to sit back and enjoy Swedish design.

See also: Furniture Fair Photo Gallery


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