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Energy of Design; Reflections on Stockholm Design Week 2023
The 2023 edition of Stockholm Design Week and Stockholm Furniture Fair February are back in full force.
Energy of Design; Reflections on Stockholm Design Week 2023

The 2023 edition of Stockholm Design Week and Stockholm Furniture Fair February are back in full force.

In the past few years, the world has undergone a profound transformation due to unexpected events that have significantly impacted our daily lives. Among these changes, the shift towards online activities has been one of the most transformative. This shift has blurred the lines between work and personal life, creating a new reality where the two overlap in unprecedented ways. As someone who spends most of their time in front of a screen, I've come to appreciate the benefits of the digital world. However, the predictability and safety of online experiences can sometimes feel stifling. That's why attending Stockholm Design Week 2023, after a three-year hiatus, was both exhilarating and daunting. It meant stepping outside of my digital bubble and experiencing the real world, which reminded me of the unique energy and connection that comes with offline experiences.

Design by Nature by Front, photo Andy Liffner

Exploring Stockholm Furniture Fair immersed me in an abundance of Scandinavian design. With so many highlights and awe-inspiring moments, it was challenging to condense my experience into this brief recap.

From research to high-tech to embroidery, Front's installation at the Stockholm Furniture Fair was a testament to the studio's impressive creative range. It's hard to believe that it's been 19 years since they first exhibited in Greenhouse, the fair's platform for emerging designers. Since then, their designs have been produced by top-tier companies such as Moroso, Moooi, Vitra, and Kvadrat, and they've been featured in renowned galleries like Friedman Benda Gallery and Galerie Kreo. Their work has also earned a place in the permanent collections of prestigious museums like MoMA, V&A, M+, Vitra Design Museum, and Centre Pompidou.

Detail of  exhibition of Front DEsign studio at SFF

Italian furniture brand Zilio A&C showcased the Bacchette chair, a collaboration with Mentsen duo. Inspired by folding safari and director's chairs, the chair features a well-balanced shape with delicate lines that explore the archetype of these classic typologies. The chair's design evokes warm weather and the outdoors, making it unique. The beech wood sticks that form the backrest and short arms give the chair an almost floating appearance. The minimal steel folding structure that supports the wood is barely visible, creating a seamless and effortless design. The designers carefully studied the chair's structure, leaving only the essential elements.

Zillio A&C presentation at SFF

Zilio A&C also displayed their popular Candid model at the fair, which was showcased in several other stands of other brands. The Ogeborg, for example, used black versions of the chair to bring character to their overall design sense, which was envisioned by Note Design Studio. Certain spaces immediately stand out as having been touched by the Stockholm design team. It's clear that these creatives have an eye for shaping spaces that are both functional and visually appealing, leaving a lasting impression on anyone who experiences them.

The Ogeborg stand designed in the cooperation with Note Design Studio

Lammhults is another brand that deserves attention for their bold colors and timeless designs. Their new sofa, BAU, was designed in partnership with Note Studio and showcased at the fair. The collaboration resulted in a visually striking yet comfortable and functional sofa that embodies the qualities that Note Studio is known for.

BAU sofa designed by Note Design Studio for Lammhults

Vestre's first-ever collaboration with designer Daniel Rybakken has made waves at this year's Stockholm Furniture Fair. Rybakken's take on the humble bench is named Ypsilon. The bench's stripped-back silhouette is both simple and stable, making it a comfortable seating option without being too bulky.

Interestingly, Rybakken had the idea for Ypsilon almost two decades ago but it took until now for him to bring it to fruition. When he approached Vestre, known for their outdoor furniture in urban environments, they immediately loved the concept. The angling of the beams serves a practical purpose too, allowing water to run off the bench rather than pooling on its surface.

Materiality was important for Rybakken, who wanted to show how much can be achieved with steel. His design uses the material to evoke the look of folded paper and he highlights the quality of both steel and wood. Ypsilon is a beautiful example of form-wise innovation using traditional materials to create something new.

Ypsilon, Vestre's first-ever collaboration with designer Daniel Rybakken

Verk is a company that I find truly remarkable. The furniture brand has made a real effort to keep all their manufacturing processes within Sweden, which is quite a challenge in today's globalized world. What I appreciate most is their commitment to using only honest raw materials and creating each product with careful attention to detail.

Coffee table designed by Linn Fredlund for Verk

As a journalist or rather a designer with some journalists and researcher aspirations, who values the importance of design that not only looks good but also serves a purpose, I was thrilled to discover Abstracta’s latest creation, the Zen Pod. Having previously only experienced its visuals online, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the reality of the Zen Pod was far more interesting than its digital presentation.

Created in collaboration with Stefan Holm, the Zen Pod is a unique space that offers exceptional sound absorption capabilities, making it an ideal environment for various    activities. I also fully understand the challenges involved in creating a product as complex and multifunctional as the Zen Pod - from the design and materials to the acoustics and functionality, every aspect of the design requires a high level of expertise and attention to detail. I look forward to seeing how it will shape the future of workspaces.

Abstracta's presentation at SFF

Älvsjö Gård was an unexpected gem of Stockholm Design Week. After exploring the regular halls of the Stockholm Furniture Fair, I was invited to see some of the Nordic region's best design galleries, collectives, and designers specializing in limited and small-scale design, all curated by Hanna Nova Beatrice, founder of the New Era Magazine, and project manager for Stockholm Furniture Fair and Stockholm Design Week.

Älvsjö Gård is a part of SFF, a new emarging platform of experimental and limited design.

As soon as I entered the space I could feel the pulsing energy of individual vivid personalities gathered there. Älvsjö Gård 2023 included an impressive line-up of galleries and design collectives such as Copenhagen's Tableau gallery, Bergen's interdisciplinary space Kiosken, Oslo-based Pyton, Stockholmmodern gallery, and design collective Navet. The villa's elegant setting, complete with toile de jouy curtains, floral frescos, wooden marquetry floors, and Dutch master-style paintings on the walls, provided a stark contrast to the often otherworldly objects on display. However, the exhibition's draw was not its patrician setting, but the curation and breadth of talent.

The show may have skewed towards the experimental, but the practices of many of the designers were firmly centered in craft, spanning a broad range of materials and mediums. For example, Fredrik Nielson's "Mixed Emotions" collection resembled fallen meteorites in varying shades of chromed, clear, and colored glass. Kajsa Melchior's stalactite-like furniture, made of sand and alabaster, featured forms largely determined by natural forces such as wind and water.

Fredrik Nielson's "Mixed Emotions" collection

Kajsa Melchior's stalactite-like furniture

One gallery that particularly charmed me was Pyton Gallery, which had a few objects that surprised me. As someone who spends a lot of time researching and browsing online, it's always a beautiful feeling to unexpectedly find real-life items that tell unique stories, such as the Balans Skulptur by Oddvin Rykken or the chair by NIFE.

Pyton's Oslo-based gallery presentation

The fair's organizers seem to have used the time spent away to reflect and reset, as this year's edition marks the first time the fair has been held since 2020. "Being able to offer a platform with experimental work and highly crafted furniture right next to our traditional furniture fair is an important part of our strategy moving forward," explains Hanna Nova Beatrice, "We want to mirror what's happening in the design industry."

Presentation of TABLEAU CPH

In Polish, there is a phrase, "człowiek orkiestra," which translates to "human orchestra." It describes a person who can multitask at a high level while maintaining exceptional quality and standards in each task they undertake. And after visiting Fredrik Paulsen's studio, I couldn't help but think that this phrase perfectly encapsulates his multifaceted approach to design. 

From commercial clients and commissions to galleries, and now his own JOY brand, Paulsen's passion for his work is evident in every aspect of his multifaceted practice.

His style is characterized by its flawless execution, spontaneous nature, and attention to detail. Every aspect of his work matters, from bold statements to essential details. JOY, his latest venture, embodies this ethos, with playful and honest objects that bring joy to their users. But it's not just the end result that's impressive. The process of creating these objects is equally noteworthy. Paulsen's studio is a hive of activity, with materials and tools strewn about, and works in progress scattered on every surface. It's a space that invites experimentation and play, a place where Paulsen's creativity is given free rein.

JOY objects at Fredrik Paulsen's studio

The design world is often preoccupied with the finished product - the polished, showroom-ready piece. But what of the process that goes into creating these objects of desire? This is the question that Massproductions sought to answer in their recent exhibition at Stockholm's Sven-Harry's Art Museum.

Assembly line at the exhibition of Massproductions at at Stockholm's Sven-Harry's Art Museum

Rather than simply showcasing their  designs, the Swedish brand turned their attention to the manufacturing details of their furniture. Visitors were invited to explore every aspect of production - from the intricate assembly of their lounge chairs to the crafting of their sleek hooks. And for those who wanted to get their hands dirty, Massproductions even provided the opportunity to assemble a piece of furniture themselves.

Thirteen industrial processes were installed throughout the museum's galleries, transforming utilitarian items into beautiful sculptures and installations. And all of this was done in Massproductions' signature style - bold, playful, and straight to the point. It's no wonder that their brand and creations are so beloved by design enthusiasts and specialists alike - their approach is both interactive and engaging, making the complexities of the manufacturing process accessible to all.

The Crown Chair and part of its production process exhibited at at Stockholm's Sven-Harry's Art Museum

Teenage Engineering needs no introduction - this innovative team has a track record of always surprising and delighting its followers with unexpected and exciting products. And they’ve done it again with their latest release, the Field Desk. This minimal and modular desk is designed to be part of an integrated work environment, and its simplicity and functionality are a testament to TE's commitment to creating only what is truly necessary. The Field Desk is just the first in a series of components called the Field Rail System, and I can't wait to explore all the possibilities this system has to offer.

The Field Desk presentation at SDW

Moving on to the Pholc x Astrid showroom - it's an intimate and soothing space where Pholc lamps are wrapped in warm and soft natural Astrid textiles, creating a mini landscape of tranquility. This combination of quality textiles and decorative lighting was showcased in the "Soft Shades" exhibition at Astrid's showroom during Stockholm Design Week. Pholc is a Swedish lighting brand that defies expectations and brings a unique personality and style to each of its lamps.

Turner pendants combined with Astrid textiles and Apollo lamps at the display

At Konstnärsbaren during Stockholm Design Week, FRAMA showcased their latest series, Bracket, designed in collaboration with Copenhagen-based studio Frederik Gustav. Inspired by traditional carpentry, the series turns the structural bracket into an aesthetic feature that runs throughout the entire collection. The pieces on display were later auctioned off at Bukowski, adding to the series' allure and exclusivity.

Frama presentation of the new Bracket Chair at the SDW

I had the pleasure of attending Carl Hansen & Søn recent presentation at the Nationalmuseum. The spectacular introduction of their new products was held in one of the atrium spaces, which provided the perfect backdrop for any presentation. One particular feature that stood out to me was the lift tower, it was a stunning and unique background that perfectly complemented the furniture and accentuated their beauty and functionality.

Newly launched sofa designed by Rikke Frost for Carl Hansen & Søn

The new sofa designed in collaboration with Rikke Frost was a highlight of the presentation for me. What impressed me most about the sofa was its unique shape and asymmetrical design, which offered a range of different sitting options. I could see how this could encourage dialogue and interaction among people, something that's becoming increasingly valuable in today's digital age.

Now or Never exhibition at SFF

Now or Never – 1kg CO2e, an eye-opening exhibition that presents a selection of furniture materials and their climate impact. As a designer, Emma Olbers has long been pondering the climate impact of various materials and how her choices can make a difference. In partnership with SALLY, a future manifestation lab at the design and innovation agency EY Doberman, and with help from Doconomy and their 2030 Calculator, Olbers has created an exhibition that makes the intangible tangible. By showcasing the quantity of different materials we can get for exactly one kilogram of greenhouse gas emissions, the impact of our choices is made clear. Join us in this crucial conversation and let's make a difference together.

Vestre and its the world's most environmentally friendly furniture factory, The Plus.

The Stockholm Furniture Fair genuinely struck a chord with me, not merely due to the presence of renowned brands, but also for the invaluable platform it provided to inventive and emerging talents. This welcoming attitude fostered a refreshing atmosphere of innovation and artistic expression.

Venturing through Stockholm Design Week and the Furniture Fair was akin to embarking on a vivid, captivating odyssey. It offered the pure joy of unearthing and embracing the finest sustainable design, an attribute synonymous with the heart of Scandinavian ethos. The festival managed to convey a sense of warmth and closeness. Navigating the event was a breeze, and every turn revealed delightful surprises and hidden gems.

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Thisispaper Magazine
A book of stories about thinkers and makers.
In this publication we have collected stories from the designers and artists that inspire us with their creativity and skill. Whether working in fashion, design, photography or architecture, they share the commitment to process and have a strong, personal voice.

How do you create an inspiring workplace? How does the space we work in influence our health? Can the workspace boost your creativity and well-being? To answer these questions we reached out to experts in the field.
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