Back in February, I went to Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair again – it’s the biggest meeting place for Scandinavian design in the world and it’s pretty epic. Spread across three, great, big halls at congress centre Stockholmsmässan, there are around 700 brands on show, with about 80% hailing from Scandinavia. So it’s true Scandinavian design heaven – from young, emerging brands to established greats, there’s always something new to discover.
This year, I got the feeling that Scandinavian designers were trying to show that they were more than the cool, contemporary, monochrome minimalism they’ve become known for. There was a focus on sustainability, local craftsmanship and material details – New Nordic some might call it. They’re all aspects that have always been the backbone of Scandinavian design, but now there’s an emphasis on authenticity, warm minimalism and natural, earthy colours.
Here I’ve picked out my highlights from the fair – including the latest product launches from my favourite names and hot talent to keep an eye out for.
Made by Hand
I wrote about Made by Hand back in 2015 after discovering them at that year’s edition of Stockholm Furniture Fair. Set up in 2013, they’re a Danish brand that creates authentic and enduring products that combine their Danish design heritage with contemporary design values, uniting old techniques with new designers. With an emphasis on quality craftsmanship and materials, their designs have a straightforward functionality.
This is particularly evident in Made by Hand’s latest launch, the Sturdy Stool by London-based Studioilse. It essentially does what it says on the tin – it’s a solid design with a series of chunky rings in brushed steel holding the legs firmly in place. Says its creator Ilse Crawford, ‘Too many times I have clambered up, then sat precariously on a wobbly bar stool. The sturdy stool is strong and familiar, based on the idea of a ladder, for ease of use.’
Made in Denmark, the stool comes in various colours and finishes, and in three different heights, from light oak and brown leather to black stained ash and black leather.
Images: Ditte Isager
Pholc is a Swedish brand established in 2015 who create unique lighting with talented designers. They say, ‘Our vision is to develop design where the aesthetics plays a central role. Where the Scandinavian design language is a starting point that we match with new perspectives.’
At Stockholm they showed Mobil designed by Monika Mulder. Tasked by Pholc to create a ‘lamp that will look great in a New York loft,’ she used black metal tubes and round glass to create a ceiling lamp. Inspired by New York balcony rails and the round streetlights on Brooklyn Bridge, they comprise four parts that are linked to each other and have pearl-like lamps. The design resembles a mobile when the elements are turned, so giving the lamp its name Mobil.
Images: Kimme Persson, styling: Fanny Fager
Skagerak is one of my favourite Scandinavian brands. They turned 40 this year and have a lovely, simple philosophy that their designs should be a natural part of everyday life. At Stockholm, I was particularly drawn to their accessories collection. Designed by Stilleben, their Edge collection, for instance, comprises a terracotta teapot, cups, mugs, vases and plant pots. With a simple, Nordic expression and earthy, tactile materials, the teapot is a beautiful object. The outside has a deep brownish-red appearance, while inside it is glazed to make it durable and easy to clean. The handle is made from teak and is fastened with elegant brass nuts and bolts. It’s stunning.
Other items that caught my eye were the Nomad table tray designed by VE2. It has folding legs in grey powder-coated steel and a light oak tray that can be used as a coffee table or breakfast serving tray in bed. The Nordic tray, also by VE2, is a round, wooden tray that is versatile and can be used a fruit bowl or serving dish.
Helsinki-based Studio Kaksikko is made up of designers Salla Luhtasela and Wesley Walters who met each other while studying at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. They specialise in ceramic tableware and wooden furniture. Both share an interest in functional, understated forms that highlight each material’s tactile qualities and the production process.
Studio Kaksikko’s Maissi Bench is a simple bench that was inspired by old stairway handrails. The curved arms and back are made by laminating thin strips of oak over moulds and routing them into cylinders. You might recognise their slender Perch Stool too. Inspired by weatherworn door handles of old Helsinki buildings, the stool is lightweight and made of solid wood. The structural dimensions are taken to the very minimum, while still being a comfortable seat to perch on.
images © chikako harada
Friends & Founders
Friends & Founders is a Danish brand founded in 2013 by designers Ida Linea and Rasmus Hildebrand. They say, ‘We try hard to fulfil your needs by influencing, inspiring and supporting your way of living. Friends & Founders invest for the future by making efforts to find sustainable solutions. We wish the users to have a long-term relationship with our products by designing objects to last.’
At Stockholm they launched their newly extended collection of furniture and objects with the theme ‘Fragments’. Their display stand itself was beautiful – it was envisaged as a set of scenes presenting different moments in life, memories and dreams, expectations, achievements and inspiration. ‘Fragments with different perspectives, reflecting a ‘whole’ which counts and matters,’ they say. The products were accompanied by classic geometric architectural elements and hand-pained archways in white, yellow ochre and blue.
Designed by Ida Linea, the collection is influenced by geometric shapes and strong silhouettes. They call it contemporary design with a strong focus on craft. My favourite pieces are the Saw desk, with its v-frame legs and round-edged top and the lapipe chairs (in the first picture below), which are available in rich velvet.
Adea is new to me, although I’m not sure how I didn’t hear of it sooner. It’s a Finnish brand founded in 1994, which produces elegant and timeless furniture. At Stockholm they showed the Mr Jones sofa and armchair, designed by Alexander Lervik, which won the 2017 Elle Decoration Swedish Design Award for Furniture of the Year. They also had a number of other sofas to sink into: the Baron sofa with a focus on leather, plus the Basel sofa below, both by Mats Broberg and Johan Ridderstråle.
I really liked the Botanic Shelf by Pinja Rouger and Riikka Kantinkoski. It’s a warm oak wood shelving system with brass shelves for plants that can slide up and down to create different variations. The Bonnet sofa and chair, also by Broberg and Ridderstråle, caught my eye too for its smooth, round shape and spindly black legs.
Images: Riikka Kantinkoski, Weekday Carnival, styling: Susanna Vento
So there we go, those are my top picks from Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2017. Does anything catch your eye?
First image © riikka kantinkoski.
Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair takes place each year in February at Stockholmsmässan, find out more here.
I was a guest in Stockholm of Swedish Design Moves, a program that aims at increasing the international awareness of Swedish design, including the branches of architecture, fashion and furniture