Taking place in early February Stockholm Design Week is the most important week of the year for Scandinavian design. The 3Equals1 Design team attended this year's festival to explore all the wonderful new furniture, lighting, and design on show. Will Nock and Gert van Dam give us the lowdown...
The picturesque architecture we found in the old town dates back to the 13th century and was made even more appealing by a dusting of snow covering the city.
Made By Choice
Will: Our first glimpse of Design Week was a quaint pop-up store by ‘Made by Choice’, a Finnish company making beautifully crafted wooden furniture of typical refined Scandinavian design: http://madebychoice.com/
With the evening calling we stumbled across a wonderful Viking themed restaurant named ‘Aifur’, which is definitely recommended for an authentic Nordic experience. It put us in good stead for our day ahead at the Furniture and Light Fair.
Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair 2018
Will continues: Entering into the fair on Thursday Morning was a surprising sceptical, we hadn’t quite realised how large it was going to be, boasting products and services from over 700 exhibitors from 35 countries, obviously the majority being from the Nordic region. However, in comparison with Milan’s Furniture fair with around 300,000 visitors, Stockholm’s fair is rather more modest at 40,000.
Gert: On entering the furniture fair exhibition, BLA station was the first stand that caught our attention. Obviously they had put lots of attention into collecting the right products to show. The combination of products, materials, and colours, and in general the overall look of their stand was really appealing.
BLA Station is a furniture manufacturer from Sweden and they’re describing themselves as being in a ‘constant flow of change’. This way of thinking resonated with 3Equals1's methodology and posed several questions which we consider all the time. E.g. How are interiors built and how do they work? How do we interact in the public space - and has our way of working and socialising changed?
We saw many examples of new ideas during the week that were tackling these issues and trends. Products illustrating this include small chairs that you can hang from the wall when they’re not in use (pictured right), being both practical and providing a playful feature. The ‘Pocket’ Lounge chair met this idea to, with a simple storage area underneath for your personal belongings and all produced in beautiful finishes.
Gert: A couple of things in particular were personally very interesting to me. To start with the modular system BOB that looked really good, shown in different configurations and materials. It is made up of many small pieces giving the possibility to create the form that you want. This is important in the workplace environment today, where flexibility is key when needing to meet several people’s requirements. This is something Harry discussed in a previous blog.
The other thing that surprised me in a positive way with the BOB range were the additional furniture pieces available, such as small tables to work on, and on top of that the best electrical sockets ever! This might need some explanation as a socket is not the most interesting thing to talk about! Since I have started to work in commercial design I know it’s a huge benefit for some products to implement sockets for the use of your laptop or to charge you phone. And there is nothing wrong with that! But from an aesthetics point of view I have never understood the use of literally the most horrible sockets in the most beautiful pieces of furniture. BLA Station gave me an example (see below) of what I would like to see more of in the future. See the pictures below and make up your own mind! The connection of the table and sofa through the socket (left) looked like a feature of aesthetics, rather than a disaster! Good job Bla Station!
Will: Something that we often find hard to come by is manufacturers offering aesthetically pleasing rubbish bins. This may seem something hard to get excited about, nevertheless ‘Lundqvist Inredningar’ a Swedish Company based in Stockholm have injected huge personality and design flare into their ‘Waste’ product range. This is definitely one to bare in mind. The wrong accessories like bins can quite easily ruin a great space.
Opposite the Lundqvist stand was another Swedish company by the name of Mizetto, what caught my eye was their storage solutions, which supplied both practicality and ease of use as well as providing a really nice feature in a space, due to their colour combinations and simplicity. My personal favourite was a new product for 2018 called the Cottage, it merged breakout and storage, which isn’t something new, yet this architectural style I can definitely see being popular.
Gert: It was great to see the developments in acoustic materials and the presentation of some nice acoustic/feature panels. Acoustic products are becoming ever more popular. From a design point of view, we were happy to see some very interesting products providing excellent additions to plain walls rather than a ‘practical must have’. One of the companies that really got our attention was manufacturer Offecct. The stand was architectural looking and a lot of the showed acoustic wall panels where neutrally coloured and very interesting formed and shaped. Especially for the public- and workspaces that we work on this is a great product to specify. Besides Offecct we were happy to visit the Abstracta stand where we saw some more beautiful acoustic products and a nice Quote that we would like to share: Privacy and Quietness make us more creative, motivated and focused, that why Pods are created!
Will: We believe Edsyn offered the most innovative products that we saw at the fair. These included the Sound Bubble 2.0 and a height adjustable desk still in the concept stage. The Sound Bubble 2.0, currently being tested ahead of production, wasn’t a normal wing-back chair. It featured noise cancelling technology controlled by an iPad to dictate the amount of exterior noise the user is wanting to hear. This would be quite revolutionary for a loud open plan office and could challenge the solo pod systems which take up large footprints. The height-adjustable desk we saw had the addition of a tilting work surface, so you could simply wind a small handle and tilt the work surface to fit with your working needs. People who are often drawing could really benefit from this, especially regarding posture. Hopefully, these two products will be put into production soon for everyone to experience.
Overall the trip was hugely enjoyable. Finding some exciting new products as we have discussed was fantastic, but what really made the trip for us was to be completely immersed in Scandinavian design style. The combination of practicality and natural materials produces a wonderfully timeless style. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to see more of the design week events back in the city, but given the time we were there we covered so much! One thing I think people who haven’t been before should be aware of is the cost of living in Stockholm. It was incredibly expensive and may deter smaller companies based outside of Scandinavia from exhibiting and visiting.