With a focus on the future

2014-03-21

TEST TEST GamFratesi were guest of honour at the Stockholm Furniture Fair and designed the large welcome installation in the entrance hall.

What will our workplaces look like in the coming years? What is going to happen with the environment? We check out the Stockholm Furniture Fair, the year's first great design and furniture exhibition. This is what people talked about!

How is the world doing? Sometimes just looking at the latest designs is enough! An effective gauge is hard to find, and we are in this case not just talking about the colours and patterns for the season but also about the economy and large global tendencies. Furniture has always been a time document history gets caught up in.
     What major issues top the agenda for the furniture industry in 2014?
     The biggest issue of all is naturally the threat to the environment.
     Everyone is aware of the risk that we all soon could be splashing about in the melt waters from a shrinking North Pole, but what can the design industry do to help?
     It could be clearly discerned at the Stockholm Furniture Fair that the environment discussion had moved onto the factory floor away from the panel discussions. More and more companies within the furniture and design industry understand the need to care - and it is actually a very decisive issue if companies are to survive. Buying furniture is no longer just about the price or the colour of the cushions. Consumers are more and more aware of the how important it is with quality, sustainability and responsible production. All this could be clearly seen in the experimental drive shown by young designers in Greenroom. There has been talk earlier about recycle but now it is all about upcycle - everything has to be utilised. Items that would otherwise be dumped are now being used in other ways and beauty can be created from the most unexpected sources. An instance of this is the collaboration between nine design students from Linköping University and Svenskt Tenn, one of Sweden's leading interior design shops, who set up the Ta om hand [Make use of] exhibition together. Discarded sheets of wood veneer were transformed into infinitely beautiful room dividers or even into lamps. A strong trend that is both innovative and sympathetic.
     This year's edition of the Stockholm Furniture Fair was unusually well balanced. The common denominator for interior design exhibitions is usually that producers pull out all the stops to overcome each other by being the most extravagant and eye-catching. This time around however the mood was pleasantly more toned down and energy was instead invested in quality and consideration. A good example of this was Fredericia from Denmark, where the main attraction was a relaunch of Børge Mogensen's sofa No.1, in celebration of the fact that this design giant would have been 100 years old this year. Keeping with the same spirit, the Swiss design maverick Alfredo Häberli was asked to pimp up Mogensen's classic Spanish Chair. Renewal by simple means.

1. Upcycle was one of the hottest trends. Waste materials were transformed into lamps and room dividers in the Ta om hand exhibition. 2. The fluorescent tube made a comeback! Poster lamp from the architect office TAF. 3. Stefan Brodbeck's new meeting chair Embrace for Kinnarps.

     A recurring theme at the exhibition was how many companies that had a clear focus on a smarter everyday life, as a playful reminder of a time when people asked how things worked and not only how they looked.  The Swedish architects office TAF have always been great at coming up with clever interpretations of everyday life issues. On this occasion the focus was upwards when the most hated design object of our times, the fluorescent tube, was upgraded.
     - When we considered how ceilings in classical offices can look with a muddle of wires and tubes, we thought it would be fun to try and reuse this form of aesthetics, says Mattias Ståhlbom about the Poster lamp, which is of course fitted with eco-friendly LED lighting.
     Who would have thought that the fluorescent tube would make such a sensational comeback? But we will just have to get used to it because some of us more than likely will be sitting and working under Poster lamp in the coming years. This is an up and coming office classic!
     The large exhibition installation normally in place at the entrance and designed by an invited guest of honour was also characterised by Restraint. This year the Danish-Italian duo GamFratesi simply exhibited their own range of furniture under a sea of suspended mobiles. Common theme? Balance, of course! This does not mean there were no pioneering elements at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. Emma Blanche and Fredrik Färg designed the exhibition's most innovative idea with an armchair made from sewn-together veneer sheets, the Wood Layer armchair. Totally amazing!
     The Swedish School of Textiles from Borås, the clothing and textile centre of Sweden, also deserves a mention. Their wonderful exhibition on how to integrate lighting with textiles was enlightening in more ways than one. This is perhaps not a novel idea but a premonition of how we in the future will search for new ways to cross-fertilise materials and functions with each other.
     - We want to show another way of working with textiles compared to the conventional textiles that are just sold by the metre, says Joanna Vikström.
     Alongside the environment, our workplaces were the big talking point at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. It is forecast that by 2020 we will spend 70 per cent of our time in the office sitting in meetings. This is naturally explained by the quick technological progress being made that makes it possible for us to work remotely, which in turn places entirely new demands on the furniture we use when we do actually meet. And in light of this, Kinnarps launched a range of exciting new products  Among those launched was a new range of chairs, perfect for informal meetings, called Embrace by the German industrial designer Stefan Brodbeck.
     - My goal was to come up with a design that is a link between the home and the office. I want to see more heart and feelings in office furniture, says Stefan Brodbeck.
     Or in the case with the playful and wavy design used in the Libra sofa bench, which is perfectly customised for the meetings of tomorrow where creativity and innovation are top of the agenda.

4 other exhibition talking points...
Bright idea 1.
The designer trio Claesson Koivisto Rune's w131 and w 126 lamps for Wästberg. So stylish!
Furniture talking point. Everyone wanted to test sit in Ola Giertz' new pioneering seating furniture Frame for Materia.
Bright idea 2. Luca Nichetto's Fondue Lamp for David Design is a pleasant flashback to the 1960s.
Best table. Get involved and have your own impact on the design. Combine from Kinnarps is a coffee table full of possibilities.