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Stockholm Furniture Fair

Av Leo Gullbring
Strangely enough the Nordic trend is still hot. The flair for modernist cool, minimalist purity, and a honest natural approach is still tempting. And as the trend prevails Stockholm has even managed to outdo Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki and now presides unofficially as the Nordic fair par excellence.


Lots of suits, some students, and black-clad designers roams among the brightly lit stands. Sure enough this isn’t Milan, way too predictable. Nevertheless a lot of foreign designers has found their way up to a chilly Stockholm, checking out their own contribution as well as the news, all brought in by friends like Thomas Sandell, Eero Koivisto and others. One can wonder, is this about bringing in some fresh blood, or just job opportunities? Is the Nordic really such a magnet? Look, there is Khodi Feiz, once at the advanced design department at Philips, now behind a series of furniture accessories for Offecct. What’s his relation to Nordic design, born in Iran, brought up in the US, living in Amsterdam? ’It’s not about style or national things, to me Nordic design represents another kind of sensibility, I like the ideas, the clarity, the humbleness, the craftsmanship, the elegance. Maybe that’s what Scandinavian design is all about, elegance: a search for beauty.’ Not far away James Irvine is busy showing of his ’X-tables’ made for Swedese, he has been busy contributing to Swedish design for more than ten years and feels perfectly at ease.

Monika Mulder, Dutch origin, one of the hailed contributors to IKEA’s latest PS-line, can’t see why we have to define what’s Swedish and what’s not, and retorts with a big smile ’Who cares?’. Neither does Thomas Bernstrand who goes out of the ordinary with ’Boxer’ made for Söderbergs Möbler, a comfy chair with retractable foot- and neckrest. The same goes for the table ’Move’, where the top slides away easily, providing space for small things or your feet. Louise Hederström shares the same concerns. Her lamp ’TCB’ shown at 99-edition of Young Swedish Form was a folded lighted sculpture, the same folding game goes on with her ’Tupelo. Bookend’.

Me myself I have a problem finding that typically Swedish trait. Some might say that Sweden has a stronger national identity, I’d say we crave for one, that’s why the past has such an influence in contemporary design as well as architecture. I deplore a lack of personality, of singularity, although Björn Dahlström’s ’BDY’ for CBI is a fun exception, although the steel tube bothers me. Likewise I’d expect some reactions to a world of conflict and struggle, at least a seed of resistance, not just hiding away in retail therapy.

Nevertheless some praise this secret of silence up in the North, a simplicity to embrace in an ever more complex world. Sure enough, minimalism prevails. Eero Koivisto admits that’s in the blood, you can’t resist, and shows his new chair ’Corn Flakes’, made in birchwood bent at the extreme for Offecct. Foreign influences not to be discounted of course, the angular corners has been done away with, materials keeps getting softer, and while not adopting all the colours of abroad, ’70s orange is hot. Olav Eldøy’s ’Peel’ for Stokke is kind of an exception as it addresses typological questions as well. In a time when the visual impact is all, you have to use your butt to sort the good ones from the mere superficial. Typically Norwegian in its focus on a ergonomically balanced experience. While slightly reminiscent of the ’Egg’ by Arne Jacobsson, the form is still wanting.

Although Sweden is at the forefront of the new office it hasn’t brought about interiors and objects as out of the ordinary as the Chiat/Day by Gaetano Pesce. Snowcrash has been trying hard since the launched the Netsurfer to go beyond the ordinary. This year they bring work out of the office with two innovative bags for the city-nomad. Ilkka Suppanen’s ’Loco’ is a portable work pad which folds open to make laptop, accessories, documents available in transit, at home, at the office. Arik Levy’s ’Addapt’ in black and anthracite starts with a carrying strap featuring two ample hooks on either end. Clip on whatever you need: the gym bag, the laptop bag, the wallet pocket, the travel bag, the office bag. Or all of them.

Published in Frame 2002

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2001 Calimero