January and February is a hectic time of year for international furniture and lighting companies. First there's IMM Cologne then Maison et Objet in Paris and finally Stockholm, which ended just a couple of days ago.
All are highly important in their own ways and many brands choose to present at all three. Cologne is regarded as the major fair to sign contracts with distributors and talk business generally while Maison, traditionally focusing on accessories brings a whimsical 'Frenchness' to the fair circuit. It has to be said that Maison is also seeing more and more furniture and lighting brands showing their wares - particularly the smaller and more individual ones. Stockholm is the Nordic fair that attracts a large number of brands from Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany and of course, Sweden. Physically it's quite a small fair but has a reputation for high quality - both in terms of design and manufacturing. The number of Scandinavian and Nordic designers collaborating with brands from other parts of Europe has grown hugely in recent years and the role that the Stockholm Fair has to play in the world scene has grown accordingly. Now a hot ticket on the design calendar, the design conscious visitor needs only to brave the winter temperatures which this year were on average, an unusually warm 3ºC.
So without further ado, here are ten delightfully different new designs that were launched at the fair.
One of big news items from the fair was Baux, a new partnership between the design studio Form Us With Love and two entrepreneurs, Johan Ronnestam and Fredrik Franzon. The brand's concept is to bring building materials out from behind walls and use them as a decorative treatment. The acoustic panels made from Träullit - a combination of wood, wool, cement and water - not only look amazing but are very efficient sound absorbers for large public spaces, offices and restaurants. The product comes in six shapes and twenty colours allowing architects and interior designers to use the panels artistically. Not only do the panels suck up the din of voices bouncing off hard surfaces but they also moderate room temperature and humidity. The designers presented twelve wonderful schemes but users are encourage to come up with their own using the six component parts.
Note Design Studio are another of Sweden's best loved young design groups. Having worked with exciting brands like Örsjö, La Chance and Seletti in recent years the studio's look has often been strong and colourful. Their 'Rise' sofa for Swedish brand, Fogia, is quite a different style - all soft round curves and quilting - almost classic but no quite. Available in two versions, one of which incorporates an extended base that becomes a side table, the sofa characteristic back shape is inspired by the sun coming over the horizon but the shape has a practical purpose too - acting as a small acoustic screen in open plan offices. The double seat cushion and detailing where the arm meets the seat are lovely features.
The Swedish design group Front, showed several new designs at the fair - an LED pendant light for Zero called 'Fog' and a new lounge height variation of their 'Collage' chair for Gemla but the 'Tetris' storage system for Horreds Möbler is my favourite. Totally simple but designed with enough variables to allow for lots of customisation, 'Tetris' can be ordered with doors in veneer, lacquered in colours or in felt as shown above. It can be combined with handles in leather brass, copper or steel.
Andreas Engesvik was another designer whose name seemed to pop up a lot this year. Releasing a beautifully delicate looking sofa called 'Tiki' for Fogia he also designed the 'Sol' stool for Norwegian brand LK Hjelle. The wide stool is given a unique expression by the inclusion of a small metal backrest that transforms it from an upholstered stool to something much more. The stool/chair/bench is designed to accommodate one or two people. Available in a wide range of colours in canvas with carefully co-ordinated frame colours or in a cognac leather, the stool has a something of a contemporary Japanese sensibility.
"Five is gently odd. Five is not too many. Five is beautiful" Mårten Claesson, Claesson Koivisto Rune.
Swedish designers Claesson Koivisto Rune (CKR) have designed a new collection called 'Five' for new Japanese brand Matsuso T. The solid maple pieces include a chair with arms, a stool, a coffee and dining table and a stool with attached coatrack, a hanging clothes rail and a circular bench with central hole. Each item is available in natural maple or lacquered in bright red or with the end points of the legs and arms expressed in the same red. Curated by Japanese designer, Jin Kuramoto who has his own equally desirable collection 'Nadia' with the brand, the collaboration continues CKR's involvement with Japan brands that started in the early 2000's with their architectural work for the acclaimed Sfera store in Kyoto.
Färg & Blanche are a young Swedish design studio that work very much in their own unique direction. For their new 'Layer' collection Frederik Färg and Emma Marga Blanche took a new path with their interest in tailored upholstery and began stitching timber together on industrial sewing machines. The resulting cabinet and armchair use this layered effect in a way that is inspired by topographical maps and architectural models. The design's have an obvious 3-D quality but this is also enhanced by the stitching details which add a hand made element. Färg & Blanche have products produced by Gärsnäs, ZERO and Design House Stockholm. Recently the Adelphi Hotel in Melbourne refitted their dining room with the studio's F-A-B chairs.
Italian design Luca Nichetto designed pieces for several brands showing at the fair such as One Nordic Furniture Company, Offecct and Mjölk. His amber glass 'Fondue' pendant for Danish lighting specialist Frandsen places the bulb on display in a different way than normal capturing a look that resembles a Castiglioni 'Parentesi' lamp encased in a glass bubble.
Hallgeir Homstvedt is a young Norwegian designer based in Oslo, who completed his BA of Industrial Design at Newcastle University in Australia. He then worked for celebrated Norwegian designers Norwaysays for three years before starting up his own studio in 2009. His 'Kavai' armchair for LK Hjelle isn't groundbreaking in it's general shape but it's form plays on the visible structure theme nicely and incorporates an interesting collar-like arm rest which is carefully tailored for maximum ergonomics. Available with both metal or wooden legs it is at it's best in the former where the fine metal support gives the chair a far more delicate quality.
Lisa Hilland's 'Bow' sofa was released at this year's Stockholm Fair by Sweden's oldest furniture company, Gemla. Based in the beech and ash forests of Småland, the company specialises in bentwood furniture of the type pioneered by Michael Thonet in the late 19th century. Having released the chair version of the 'Bow' last year, the company has extended the offering with this delicate two seater made from steam bent ash and organically tanned leather.
Canadian company Mjölk who are lovers of the Scandinavian and Japanese aesthetics, released the 'Sucabaruca' coffee set by Italian designer Luca Nichetto in collaboration with Russian-born New Yorker Lera Moiseeva. The stacking ceramic set has hand carved vertical lines as it's distinctive detail and comes with a charming maple tray perched on tiny peg-like feet. I'm not sure I would be game to stack the items in this way but the overall effect is amazing! Available in an all white form or in bright colours along with the pastel version shown above, the set will be available from Mjölk's online shop soon.