From the drawing board to finished product, it can take several years to manufacture a piece of furniture while designing a shop display window takes a couple of months. “But that is part of the charm,” says Christian Halleröd - a man with several “irons in the fire” and a never-ending passion for what he does.
Right now there is a lot going on. And being the designer he is, he is obviously at the forefront. With spring around the corner at the time of writing, the finishing touches are being put to the fashion boutique Acne's shop display window, where focus is on this spring's women's fashion, and just in time for the summer, he is launching several new pairs of sunglasses for Sunpocket.
All this together with the fact that this year's Stockholm Furniture Fair has just ended and yet another product from this multi-skilled designer has been launched, Kinnarps' sound absorber Oktav.
“When I designed Oktav, I wanted to create something that brings harmony to the workplace,” he explains.
In other words, a typical “Halleröd product”. But it is only one of many. Along with functional furniture, he can also design flashy fashion gadgets or appealing shop interiors and shop display windows. The afore mentioned Acne is an ongoing project with new shop display windows every month.
“It is basically the same process from idea to finished product, even if the aesthetics and the tempo differ greatly,” he says.
With regard to the cooperation with Acne, the shop display windows are based, of course, on the collections to be promoted. Right now these are spring fashion for women followed by denim fashions next month. The display work is always based on a given theme, the next theme is “infinity”.
“It will involve many mirrors, kaleidoscopes and car lights...”
With the sunglasses, it's more about colour and functionality, where the trendy is mixed with the classical.
“I promise that it will be wonderfully colourful this spring, in both frames and lenses!”
But is it not hard to remain at the forefront of such diverse industries?
“No, not really. You just have to be on top of what is happening globally and try to stay one step ahead. And knowing what is going on at the moment in art, fashion, architecture ...”
It seems difficult... But Christian Halleröd makes it sound so easy to stay informed. Maybe it's his personality. With his low-key, almost conservative approach, he gives a very humble and friendly impression. Far from the self-righteous, egotistical standard image of a designer, the stereotype that TV programmes use all the time.
No, he looks genuinely pleased and flattered when we meet up for the interview with freshly baked cakes in his own modern premises in atmospheric Södermalm in Stockholm.
“I have no need to make a personal impression.”
Despite his creativity, he would rather base his work on customers and their needs. Sometimes it is about functionality, sometimes aesthetics are in control.
“And customers do know what is most important. I can just listen and then offer my knowledge in this field.”
So cooperation is, in other words, the alpha and omega of a successful concept, according to Halleröd, who also prefers long-term, well-established customer relationships over short-term, fast ones. Especially in the more “slow working” furniture sector. In this way, confidence is built, which in turn leads to creative freedom.
Some of his current major customers include Elfa, Lintex and Kinnarps, of course. All these are the result of long-term and early relationships and employment. After an apprenticeship at Lammhults Möbel (where he learned all about metal), he finished up at Kinnarps the very first autumn after completing his training at the Carl Malmsten School in 1998. There he remained for four years, before starting his own agency, Christian Halleröd Design, which he has run since then.
Focus on materials
Materials have always played a central role in Christian Halleröd's design, especially wood.
“But what is most important is to use the right material for the right product. This is a science in itself, which many may not think of, but it is really important in my work.”
The environmental aspect is obviously vital, but the feeling a material and a product conveys is also important.
”Like wood, for example. It emanates heat.”
What inspires you?
“Art exhibitions, travel, books and meetings with clients and colleagues.”
Especially the latter is extremely important for both inspiration and creativity, Halleröd emphasises. It is in meetings with other people that ideas are born and evolve. And this is also why (and not only out of humility) he believes that cooperation in his various projects is so important.
In the case of shop interiors and fashion - the other end of the scale of Halleröd's design - there are certainly similarities to furniture design when it comes to work processes and material concepts. But on the whole there are some major differences.
“In the fashion industry, things change much faster and there is a completely different experimental driving force, both in terms of colours and materials. There, it is usually the customer who comes up with ideas and initiatives, while in the furniture industry I am mostly the instigator.”
But is it not frustrating to have to “dance to someone else's tune”?
“No, on the contrary. Both roles benefit from one another. I am in a position to scrutinise - and come in for scrutiny. It is useful and stimulating.”
Regardless of the scope of your work, what would you say is your common denominator?
“It is partly a feeling for materials, partly playfulness. I try to find some sort of feeling of happiness in everything I do. Design does not need to be so pretentious!”