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Stockholm Design Week 2024 in Essence
Stockholm Design Week 2024 in Essence

In the digitally saturated age we inhabit, our engagement with the world often unfolds through the lens of online platforms, leaving the tactile and the tangible feeling like distant concepts. This digital veil shapes not only our perceptions but our discoveries, funnelling our explorations through the narrow pathways carved out by algorithms.

It's a reality that makes events like Stockholm Design Week and the Stockholm Furniture Fair not just relevant, but essential. They serve as vital oases where the physicality of design — its texture, weight, and presence — can be directly experienced, stepping beyond the digital shadow into the light of real-world interaction.

The so-called Reading Room offered a calm space of respite to sit and read, reflect and immerse oneself in the ideas that have shaped Formafantasma’s work. It is furnished with the Forest Collection, developed by Artek in collaboration with Formafantasma, and features Alvar Aalto’s tables, stools and benches made of wild birch.

It is within this context that Hanna Nova emerges as a pivotal figure. Through her leadership at Stockholm Design Week and Stockholm Furniture Fair, she orchestrates a confluence of creativity and commerce, facilitating a vibrant exchange between creators, journalists, brands, and architects. Her work underscores the importance of the informal, the unplanned encounters that often spark innovation and understanding. By blending culture with business, Nova champions a space where even a casual round of mini-golf can forge lasting connections amidst the rigor of professional dealings.

Hanna Nova the Director of the SFF and SDW in the pink Reading Roombook.

Described by many as the "queen of the fair" or a "guru," Hanna Nova possesses a magnetic quality that draws people to her. She is both a solid and steady presence, known for her laughter, keen sense of distance, and humor. My upcoming conversation with her at Stockholm Design Week promises not only to delve into her pivotal role but also to explore the essence of what makes these events a critical juncture for creativity and commerce in our increasingly digital world.

Zuza; Your career spans significant roles across both established brands and emerging talent, reflecting a unique ability to navigate between these two spheres. Given your transition from journalism to becoming a creative director of the Stockholm Furniture Fair, what were the most significant challenges you faced, and how has your journalism background shaped your approach in your current role?

Hanna; The challenges I've faced reflect the times we're in, but the main issue for me was transitioning from curating editorial content and exhibitions to curating larger platforms. I've always been involved in curation, from selecting magazine content for a dedicated audience to organizing exhibitions. This step felt natural to me. However, ensuring that our commercial aspects align with cultural ones presents a new challenge. In a place like here, making a marketplace interesting requires combining commerce and culture, which can be tricky. It's all about finding the right balance.

Castor lamp by Alexander Lervik at the colorful ehibition in Johanson Design Group.

When commercial elements are pared down to their essentials, there is nothing to attract people…

Post-pandemic, we've had to reevaluate everything, including the fair's purpose and identity. It's important to include a variety of voices. but its also important to stay true to an agenda, or a curatorial idea. if you try to please everyone, the product will become bland. The curatorial challenge is also about combining commercial success and cultural relevance in a dynamic manner, attracting interesting brands and positioning them next to each other in a way that makes the fair more coherent and understandable for the visitor.

It seems your broad experience has equipped you with the knowledge to effectively combine different brands, thereby reinforcing a strong Scandinavian presence. At the fair you take it a step further by focusing on spatial arrangements, which appears to be a more demanding task.

Managing how people interact with space and light is crucial, but there's more to it. You're exposed to public opinion, both positive and negative. You have to be aware that some people may not like it, and you have to be fine with that too. I try to navigate that feedback gracefully.

It's about filtering what you absorb and what you disregard, isn't it?

It's crucial to listen selectively, and focus on what truly matters. The art is in balancing the intake of information, learning from others while not being overwhelmed by every opinion. This discernment is essential, especially when considering feedback and insights from fellow exhibitors. I keep being calm in the midst of everything.

New interiors at the freshly opened restaurant MESS during the dinner after the presentation of the Ogeborg collaboration with Monica Förster.

Finding calm in the storm, then.

For example, our choice of Formafantasma as the guest of honour wasn't merely for their aesthetic appeal but more so for their profound approach to design—focusing on the process of creation rather than just the end result. What truly stands out is the journey from concept to realization. Their collaboration with Artek is a great example, presenting  a broader vision of future design practices, emphasizing the importance of sustainability and innovative approaches. The years spent debating sustainability on stages and platforms are now giving way to tangible practices and methodologies.

It seems sustainability has evolved from a talking point to a default setting in how we approach design and exhibitions.

Right, and this shift is visible also among smaller exhibitors who emphasize local narratives, creating a unique experience. Sustainability isn't just a question of 'how can you do it now?' but 'how does your presence contribute to a sustainable future?' For every exhibition we instigate at the fair, we're meticulous about the afterlife of the materials, ensuring everything is being reused.

So if we are here today - I must naturally ask, what are the challenges this year for you in the Stockholm Furniture Fair?

Particularly the economic downturn, we've felt the impact keenly within the industry. Navigating the recession has been like steering through a societal flu, affecting everything from consumer choices and market dynamics to how people act towards each other. But it's also been a challenge to make people think differently about the trade fair format. Despite these hurdles, we've strived to provide a meaningful platform for exhibitors, balancing the need to support both small and large brands while also pushing forward the discourse on culture with exhibitions and talks curated by Pin Up Magazine and Disegno Journal.

It appears that maintaining a balance between the cultural and commercial elements is a key challenge.

Balancing culture and commerce is crucial, just like inviting elements of play - like incorporating a mini golf course in the bar complete with a championship and design prizes. It's about making the experience enjoyable and engaging. The fair of the future needs to successfully merge culture with commerce. We have to let go of the old idea of the fair, and give way for a new formula.

Malmö studio Lab La Bla unveiled Surface Club, a bar and mini-golf course made from waste materials including Tetra Pak packaging, at the Stockholm Furniture Fair.

We aim to make these events not just commercially successful but also culturally enriching. I've encouraged brands to engage with the Fair space as if they had a showroom or exhibition in the city which has led to them using the fair differently creating lively events and block parties with DJs in the isles. These activities make participants feel a part of something larger and more dynamic. It's about blending business-driven and purely design-focused participants into a cohesive whole.

“We aim to remind everyone that while the fair functions as a marketplace, its essence is deeply rooted in culture, adding significant value beyond mere transactions”.

I've been particularly drawn to the platform for collectible design you created last year, Älvsjö Gård, which operates outside the fair. It was a fascinating addition, showcasing niche talents. Could you share more about this year's edition and any developments or changes?

This year's edition has clarified my vision for Älvsjö Gård. I brought the platform into the fair ground in order  to demonstrate the evolving landscape of design. I want to highlight how designers are increasingly working across the spectrum—from industry collaborations to small-scale, end-to-end projects. 

I am very fond of it as a platform, as it offers a place for designers to showcase more experimental work in a commercial context. It broadens the idea of design at the fair and it reflects both how designers work today, and how our interiors look. The pieces they showcase here are bought by collectors mainly, but can also be developed for production. The Swedish brand Bebo objects actually put a chair from last year's edition into production. It’s a place for ideas.

Carsten in der Elst showcased his Graywacke Offcut series in Sweden for the first time.

Navigating through the world of designers must be complex. How do you choose whom to feature? Carsten in der Elst mentioned that your connection sparked from his New Year's resolution stories on Instagram. It seems like it was quite the serendipitous encounter.

Indeed, I reached out to Carsten on Instagram. I had been wanting to approach him for a long time but was uncertain about how we could collaborate effectively. After some initial conversations, we began to plan, and he was inspired to drive here, his van loaded with pieces from his workshop. He had the opportunity to spend a week here, meeting a lot of Scandinavian brands and networking in general. It was great. 

It's really special hearing about Didi NG Wing Yin. It adds such depth to the fair.

Didi's story is quite something. We invited him before we knew he would be named the newcomer of the year at our annual Scandinavian design Awards. I was curious about where he saw his work going, whether he'd stick with crafting those unique pieces he's so good at or maybe work more towards the industry. But he was keen to focus on unique pieces which was exactly what we were hoping for.

And then there's David Ericssons chair project, which I love. He is one of Swedens most interesting designers and particularly good at chairs. At Älvsjö gård he showcased parts of a previous research project with chairs plus two new pieces marbled with a pattern of a sky. They both sold directly to different collectors abroad.

Details of Didi's artistic creations showcased at the SFF. He aims to expand woodworking and contemporary design by highlighting wood's materiality with conceptual, experimental, and carving techniques.

It’s like you’ve had all these hidden treasure chests in your mind, just waiting for the right moment to open them up. And then, there’s the work with Nick Ross.

He did a small-scale exhibition last autumn showcasing the initial pieces in this series. For this exhibition, he’s expanded on the same concept, but the underlying theory remains the same. It’s something quite beautiful and dear to me. I even joked with my husband about whether these pieces could be mass-produced. But honestly, they’re perfect as they are – I really like to see his work presented like this. It's very much about cutting away everything to the essence and it is so different seeing his vision presented like this, as a whole and without compromise, rather than as a finished one off product for a brand.

Nick Ross's self-initiated 'Primitive Arrangements' collection focuses on returning to the basics.

The meticulousness in every aspect... it’s all very nuanced, isn’t it? Crafting each object must be both a challenge and a form of perfectionism.

Absolutely. Each piece offers a glimpse into his identity as a designer. You get to know him, and his thought process through his work. Experimenting is also a way of understanding yourself as a designer, which is precious. All the designers we collaborate with, like Jenny Nordberg, who ventured into designing candelabras for the first time, bring something unique to the table. Their contributions add a rich tapestry of exploration to the fair.

The Mental Note by Jenny Nordberg candelabras are inspired by a simple idea: what if materials and techniques typically in supporting roles took center stage? Using aluminum tubes and plastic joints, which usually blend in, these candelabras highlight them exclusively, with no competition.
Sizar Alexis, a Swedish-Iraqi designer, blends Brutalist aesthetics and ancient Mesopotamian heritage, redefining modern design through geometric shapes and raw materials. His work, characterized by stillness, serenity, and strong identity, reflects his Chaldean diaspora background and modern-timeless fusion.

In all my conversations today, I've heard varied opinions about the relevance of fairs in the digital age. Some wonder why we still need physical events when everything is online. But personally, experiencing the fair firsthand has been invaluable. It's one thing to write about designs I've only seen online, but another to actually see, touch, and experience them. It challenges the notion that digital can replace all aspects of our lives. We're human, after all, not cyborgs; we crave tangible experiences.

I think one of the most valuable aspects of a fair lies in the shared experience. Physical spaces like these offer something online presentations simply can't: a communal, tangible experience that's deeply rooted in the moment. We create this moment together. During the pandemic, we saw how digital platforms couldn't fully replicate the experience of product launches and exhibitions. First and foremost products need to be touched and felt, and experienced from all angels. How do people interact with them, and in what way are they presented? It’s all part of the identity. Then there's the energy that stems from different people coming together in one place to share an experience together, and that is hard to replace with a screen. That energy gives the product a context. It has the ability to make or break a product, or add a new dimension to it. That's the magic of physical events — they frame our understanding of a design, and our current now, in a way that digital interactions - or a mere photograph -  simply can't match.

The fair has already received so much positive attention this year, but you have just announced you’re stepping away from your role as director. Why is that?

I feel I have delivered an agenda - a seed to a new beginning - and this will be continued when it’s time for me to leave. A fair is a vision, but also great team work. I feel ready to bring my vision to new places, where I can share my time between curating and cultivating design, in a commercial context, and my magazine (The New Era Magazine). We live in an exciting - and challenging - time. There’s so much to do.

Ogeborg x Monica Förster

First and foremost, our favorite project emerged from the collaboration between Ogeborg and Monica Förster. This project weaves into the intimate personal story of how designer Monica inherited a forest from her father, the collection of handcrafted carpets taking about a year to come to life in close partnership with Ogeborg.

The resulting pieces are particularly large, featuring irregular shapes with an organic feel. Inspired directly by the moss, grass, and bushes of her very personal forest, the designs were meticulously inspired by the landscape, where even some unexpected beauties were born out of mistakes. The structure is chunky, the texture thick, with some pieces reminiscent of delicate, sponge-like moss, and others of brownish, short bushes—all presented and accompanied by the photography of Osman Tahir.

Joy x Bukowski x Fredrik Paulsen

Fredrik Paulsen could undoubtedly take part in design marathons with his endless creativity potential. His newly launched collection, titled "Foundation of Joy," was commissioned for Bukowski Auction House and premiered during Stockholm Design Week. Known for his Joy Objects brand, Paulsen was tasked with creating an eccentric and one-of-a-kind collection that embodies circular and reinvented themes.


Each piece is a variation of Joy objects—chairs, tables, regalia—all united by Fredrik's playful style, a mixture of cultural elements, colors, and textures, yet very simple in construction. With this collection, he reminds us that the very essence of design lies in play and fun. The collection was completed with a printed catalogue, full of beautiful old private pictures from Fredrik's life, adding another intimate layer to the entire project.


This brand has always caught my attention, especially due to their longstanding partnership with Note Design Studio, which has highlighted the unique DNA from their archives. "Strong design informs everything we do – from our furniture to our graphics and exhibitions." I wholeheartedly agree. Lammhults shines unmistakable from a distance.

The brand reintroduced the iconic Taburet Plus, designed by Peter Andersson as a homage to the popular 282 stool created by Lammhults founder Edvin Ståhl in 1955. Reflecting on the lasting relevance of this piece of Swedish design history, Andersson envisioned a creative dialogue with Ståhl, inspiring an extension of the iconic design for a contemporary audience while tapping into the founder's industrious mindset. Sustainability was a priority, with every detail meticulously considered. The chair's seat and back are made from ABS plastic recycled from old refrigerator interiors. Furthermore, all materials in the chair, such as the steel frame and zinc details, can be separated for future recycling, showcasing the chair as a mono-material product, enabling its materials to be recycled and reused.

Anya Sebton's sofa design, Geofanti, embodies a bold statement that seems to embrace you as you relax into it. Aiming to create a playful expression that resonates with Lammhults' early designs, Sebton's approach resulted in a distinctive silhouette that prioritizes performance, material circularity, and a bold design language.

Photo: ©Massproductions


The brand made a captivating return to the Stockholm Furniture Fair, marking four years since their last appearance. The highlight of their comeback was the unveiling of the Patch Sofa, a fresh addition to their illustrious sofa family. But the intrigue didn't stop there; the brand also presented the innovative Gridlock shelf system and introduced a plush new padding option for the beloved Rose Chair, adding layers of comfort and sophistication to their already impressive collection.


VERK remains a delight to rediscover annually, growing while maintaining their production of raw and beautiful Swedish-made furniture. The brand exemplifies industry uniqueness, particularly with their emphasis on all-Swedish wool textiles by Ingegerd Råman. They recently introduced the V.SS.01 stool, a blend of simplicity, modesty, and exclusivity, made from top-quality materials like solid oak or birch and vegetable-tanned leather from Tärnsjö Tannery.


Abstracta is once again pushing the boundaries of their acoustic product range and exploring new territories with their latest collection in collaboration with Maja Ganszyniec Studio and Khodi Feiz. Both designers, new to the brand's portfolio, promise a bright future for their cooperation. Maja delved into soft seating, designing an entire Akunok family of products where each element is like a letter in an alphabet—unique in presence but importantly bearing recognizable details and language. Khodi Feiz approached acoustic lighting with a novel perspective, aiming to create a peaceful atmosphere with the Vika, a sculptural floor screen that manages sound while radiating atmospheric light, showcasing a fresh way of thinking about sound and light.


Wekino's story highlights the crucial role of designers in shaping brand visions. Beginning a conversation with Stockholm-based Note Design Studio just before the pandemic, Wekino firstly aimed to simply create a collection typical of the region’s minimal aesthetic but the collaboration developed a vision that puts Korean design at the forefront, with Note Design Studio's signature playful and smart use of color enhancing the new design pieces without overwhelming them.

At this year’s Stockholm Furniture Fair, Wekino unveiled an entirely new identity and initiative, incorporating a two-phase project: a rebrand and the curation of a new incubation collection that commissions works from up-and-coming designers. The selected pieces blend craftsmanship with a "hypermodern vibrancy," ranging from large furniture to small homeware objects.

Adrian Bursell x Siri Svedborg

A true gem and discovery were Adrian Bursell and Siri Svedborg, who debuted with their Burn and Turn collection of tables. Their stand drew immense curiosity and admiration, featuring wood surfaces coloristically painted in delicate hues and tones, contrasting beautifully with bases made of glass, ceramic, or aluminum. Their work embodies humility, modesty, and strong vision—an absolute marvel and discovery.


In its audacious declaration of "Finnish and Brutal," Vaarnii left an indelible mark at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, unveiling there for the first time its collection crafted from a singular, raw material: Finnish pine. Co-founders Antti Hirvonen and Miklu Silvanto passionately articulated, "For generations, pine has been overlooked as a furniture-making material, often misjudged as of lesser quality. Our collection reclaims the narrative for this bold, characterful wood, celebrating its intrinsic properties."

The fair provided a tangible experience of Vaarnii's creations—bold, thick, yet minimalistic in aesthetic, now enriched with two new additions. The Peace collection, a collaborative effort with the renowned Faye Toogood, and the Maasto, a harmonious blend of wood and plywood envisioned by Ronan Bouroullec, showcased the brand's expansion. However, what captivated us most was the warm glow of light filtering through pine veneer, paired with an unexpectedly graphic and elemental form, encapsulating the timeless charm of Hans-Agne Jakobsson's iconic designs.

Diving into the exploration of pine wood for their lighting collection, Vaarnii discovered the unmatched brilliance of Hans-Agne Jakobsson's designs from the 1960s. In their hands, pine isn't just a material; it becomes a statement, its distinct tone and texture fully utilized to create designs that are both substantial in appearance and surprisingly light in reality. Vaarnii has creatively adapted three of Jakobsson's iconic pendant designs, crafting them from solid Finnish pine encircled by strips of premium pine veneer. This innovative reinterpretation breathes new life into these revered 20th-century pieces, ensuring their sophisticated charm and design integrity are celebrated anew in today's design landscape.

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