Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Stockholm Design Week 2013 - Furniture and Lighting Fair

 Entrance Installation by Oki Sato of Nendo

The entrance installation of the Stockholm Furniture and Lighting Fair was a special touch that was certainly unnecessary but definitely appreciated and it showed that the organizers are serious about design.

The installation's simple design is made up of stark white bars that are bent in rows which give the feeling of a mountain range.  Within the mountains' valleys is where one can find a chair here and there.  As light shines down from the ceiling it creates a lattice pattern on the base which gives the airy structure the illusion of depth.

Once within the structure, the chaotic atmosphere of the front entrance is successfully obstructed enough to offer the visitor a tranquil retreat.

The underpopulated state of this piece only adds to its charm and effectiveness.  While the installation clearly succeeds in the form and function criteria by which all design is evaluated, it also blurs the perceived boundaries of art.  For centuries artists have played with the viewers' perception of art and challenged the viewers' relationship to a given work, and its accessibility.  I think that is certainly true of this piece.  Beautiful in its simplicity, the structure looks very much like a sculpture you would usually be told not to touch.  But the chairs within invite the passerby to participate and by doing so make this piece "work".  A more timid guest might feel intimidated by this play on perception but for me that's what makes it so much fun!


 Kinnarps Beehive

 The move to more organic spaces was a constant theme throughout the show this year.  Some were more obvious about it than others.  Kinnarps was one of the more impressive of the show and you could tell they had fun with their display.  This was a trade show.  No one thing was for sale, but it was the smart company who marketed an idea rather than try to push a particular product.  Kinnarps did just that.  Hexagonal pods lined the floor and were built up into a type of seating area.  They call to mind the sense of community and harmony of a busy beehive.  At the top of the stairs was a cafe and meeting area.  The impression one went away with after a display like Kinnarps is that of harmony and relaxation but also productivity.  The standard (boring) office chairs were hanging from the ceiling and what a great place for them.  

Götessons Acoustic Clouds

The people at Götessons take the move to organic shapes quite literally with these office clouds.  Designed to aid in sound quality in either large general work spaces or in meeting rooms, these clouds do more for the overall atmosphere of a space.  They are fun.  They are not meant to be taken too seriously.  These clouds create a space where people want to be, rather than have to be.  I think that is the ultimate change in office design, people have to enjoy the space they are in otherwise productivity decreases.  Designers have always known this but it takes the corporate heads to jump on board too.  Clearly there is now a marketplace for happy offices spaces.

Bene Paper Wall

Bene's paper wall was a lovely backdrop for their display.  It was my favorite part of the Bene contribution but upon further investigation, this does not seem to be a product that they actually sell.  They must have commissioned it or it was a one-off for the show.  They do not credit it on their website.  Here it is anyway.  I am a sucker for paper applications and I did get a little excited about the idea of being able to access this type of look for an office space.


BuzziSpace Booths and Panels

The booth designs by BuzziSpace are a great addition to either an office or a restaurant/hotel space.  They create a warm atmosphere while eliminating noise pollution.  

The acoustic walls tiles were arranged in a patchwork formation, which effectively displayed their versatility.  The use of fabrics such as this plaid take away the sterile feel often associated with office interiors and achieve a homey look.

Ogeborg Scale Collection

Once again we see the use of the hexagonal form.  Ogeborg takes it one step further by subdividing the hexagons to create six segments, which can then be treated separately to achieve the patchwork effect so popular this year.  The final look is up to the client to decide.  The segments are available in various colours and textures.   Ogeborg displayed the versatility of the Scale collection by carrying it up to the wall space creating an acoustic panel from the same materials.  I love how they left many of the segments empty allowing the imagination to take over.

Green Furniture Sweden T-Shirt Chair

I think this was my absolute favorite of the show.  Green Furniture Sweden is a company that scouts new design talent and eco-innovations through a global competition and the winning design is featured and distributed through the company.  The T-Shirt chair by, Maria Westerberg, can be used for either commercial or residential spaces and the final look is completely decided by the client.  First a frame is selected from a variety of basic metal grid designs (the above example was used in an airport waiting area).  Next the fabric strips, made from recycled materials, are chosen.  The strips are then woven into the grid frame with each row housing a single strip.  As the strips get dirty or worn-out, they are washed or replaced individually, saving in energy costs and total waste.  In commercial applications this chair gives a cozy and comfortable feel and in a residential space they are chic and fabulous.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Stockholm Design Week 2013 - Lost in Södermalm

As this is a blog about my design adventures as someone new to Sweden, I'll be honest.  I didn't make it to my desired destination that day.  Well, I did, but..I didn't.

I intended to check out the Knitted House exhibit at the Architecture Museum.  According to the app that I had downloaded, the museum is found in Södermalm.  What a great way to start design week and I could wander around the museum exploring my other love, architecture.

I had researched the route in advance.  There were two ways I could go and both I had taken previously.  I chose to cross over Gamla Stan (the old town) and was careful not to veer off my route for any reason.  I reached the bridge but the sign said "Nacka", so I went in the other direction to find another bridge.

Did I mention it was snowing?  A lot.

After approximately ten minutes of looking for another bridge and at zero visibility, I decided to turn back.

This is a sliding doors moment for me because had I been able to see more than three metres in front of me, I would have been able to see another bridge and by pure accident I would have ended up in Skeppsholmen, which is where the Modern Museum is and where the signature exhibit for Design Week, Glass Elephant, was being held and well, where I was actually supposed to be going.

But I turned back and crossed that Nacka bridge and yes, I got to Södermalm.  Once over the bridge, I took a quick peek at the Google map on my tablet - for good measure.  I climbed up the stairs in front of me and thereby to Södermalm proper.  I had accidentally found my way to the main drag, Götgatan.  With a self satisfied chuckle, I headed up the street.  That was easy!

Did I mention the snow?  Not the fluffy light-hearted stuff people write songs about.  This is the stuff the breaks a gal's spirit, heavy and wet.

I made it to the intersection, I was there, or so I thought.  As I walk along the street to the museum I am already a little worried.  I think to myself, maybe it's just my North American mentality but why is the street so small?  And, I don't know, but why aren't there any signs?  Hmm, maybe Swedes aren't that interested in architecture museums and that's why it's so remote.  As I travel farther along the street I begin to feel more and more uneasy.  And people seem to be looking at me as though I'm trespassing on their turf.  Perhaps these people could have helped me find my way on their turf.  Perhaps.  I didn't ask.  No, this was personal.  Me vs. Södermalm, me vs. Sweden!

Back I go to Götgatan.  But here is a bustling city centre.  The culture school, signs (yes, signs!) for an exhibit at the aforementioned modern museum, a market and a subway station...this must be it.  I try again... and back.  Up some stairs... and back.  I decide I need a coffee break. The snow was seeping through my wool coat.  I didn't think I needed a thicker coat as I was supposed to be inside most of the day.  That was clearly becoming an unattainable dream.  I didn't ask for directions at the coffee shop.  They didn't speak English anyway.  Everyone in Stockholm speaks English!  I decide to cancel the trip and go home.

Ugh.  The snow.  It seems that in Södermalm the wind blows in a circle and no matter which direction you turn, snow attacks your face. One aggressive snowflake stabbing you in the eyeball is unpleasant, two, irritating, nämen*...all day long!?!

You get the picture.


I remained lost on a street very annoyingly called Ringvagen, like an insidious reminder that I may never get off this merry-go-round.   I did eventually get off but not before another bridge dilemma, which I will spare you and another coffee shop with no English...and a lot more snow.

I didn't see the Knitted House.  The Knitted House is not on Södermalm. Remember that bridge I would have crossed had I seen it, the one to Skeppsholmen?  Ja, the Knitted House is there. 


Nämen – A colloquialism meaning “no but".  The Swedes say this a lot.  Both when they are happy or surprised (running into a good friend on the street – “Nämen, hej!") or in times of great irritation (this is the context used here).