Five top urban designs to spice up Sweden

Last time you got stuck waiting for a train did you even notice what chair you were sitting on to while the minutes, or hours, away? Probably not. Public design does not have to be so anonymous, argues design writer Angeline Eriksson.

Five top urban designs to spice up Sweden
A public swivel bench and a heart-shaped bike stand. Photos: Haggs, Lappset

Urban furniture design is the stuff that surrounds us every day. Much of it goes by unnoticed. It’s the furniture and the props we see in parks, train stations or schools, and consists of garbage cans, benches, or say,  mail boxes, for example.

It is also the stuff that 99 percent of us have absolutely no say over, unless the municipal or city district politicians you elected are particularly sensitive to your design preferences. Nag the members of your local environmental committee (miljönämnden) if you want to be kept updated about upgrade plans near you. 

Sweden is known for fantastic and innovative design and this year at the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair the best of the best came out to showcase why Sweden and Scandinavia are still the ones to beat. 

IN PICTURES: Five of the best ways to spice up the spaces we share in public

On Saturday February 8th, the fair at Älvsjömässan in southern Stockholm will also open to the public, so grab your inspiration goggles and get awandering. The commuter trains heading south from Centralen will take you there. 


Angeline Eriksson

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IKEA’s refugee hut crowned Design of the Year

IKEA’s design for a flatpack refugee hut has won the prestigious Design of the Year award, beating off competitors such as David Bowie’s last album and a robot which can do surgical operations.

IKEA's refugee hut crowned Design of the Year
The IKEA Better Shelter on display in London. Photo: Alastair Grant/AP/TT
”We are incredibly proud to be bringing home both the Beazley Designs of the Year Award for Architecture and this year’s Grand Prize – especially in a year with such intense competition,” Johan Karlsson, the founder and acting Managing Director for Better Shelter said in a press release. 
But as he accepted, he admitted he had “mixed emotions”, given a continuing refugee crisis. 
“We accept this award with mixed emotions – while we are pleased that this kind of design is honoured, we are aware that it has been developed in response to the humanitarian needs that have arisen as the result of the refugee crisis,” Karlsson said in a press release. 
Shortly after the award was given, US president Donald Trump signed an executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim countries, including Syria, from seeking asylum in his country. 
Better Shelter, developed in collaboration with the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR, is a flatpack design which can be erected by four adults in four hours, and which can comfortably house a family of five. 
While at $1,250, the hut costs twice as much as a standard refugee shelter, but is designed to last for at least three years, and provides a lockable door, stab-proof plastic cladding, and electricity through a solar generator. 
More than 16,000 of the huts have already been delivered to Iraq, Djibouti, Niger, Etiopia, Nepal, Greece, Macedonia and Chad.