One of things that makes the Stockholm Furniture Fair one of my favorite design shows, is Greenhouse. Entirely dedicated to new designers, this area showcases products that have never been shown before and are not yet in production, making this a really exciting place to see new design thinking.
This year, the space was designed by Note Design Studio. Susanna Wahlin, Interior Architect at Note told me: “We were thinking about what it’s supposed to be and why it’s called Greenhouse. We took inspiration from baroque gardens – they were a place to socialize, to experience beauty, where you can meet and mingle, and experience each other’s ideas. This year, we’ve called it ‘the garden of new ideas’, so we’ve removed some of the walls that are normally between the exhibitors, so the new ideas could really meet, so that both the exhibitors could talk with each other, but also so the audience could ‘dare’ to step inside.”
Alexis Holmqvist, AD and Graphic Designer at Note added: “When you have deep walls you have to put the stands in a row, when you have shorter walls you can have softer curves. The carpets lead to the main square and a grand square leading up to the upstairs – to have a staircase with a view of the garden was a classic way to arrange a french garden so we were inspired by that. You can see so much more of each stand – it’s much more open, you don’t feel closed in at all, so we’re really pleased with it.”
One of the first pieces that caught my eye was Armadillo by Heleen Sintobin part of Spot On, the exhibition from the University of Oslo. She says: “The human body is unique; this is the starting point Armadillo’s flexible design. The structure will adapt to the user’s body shape. When the user gets up, he leaves a personal mark in the landscaping furniture.”
I loved the handcrafted feel and intricate detail of 2,000 pieces of leather stitched together to make this very tactile and organic piece of furniture.
From the Bergen Academy of Art and Design, I spotted Waft by Marie Hovengen Moller. It’s not often you come across a new and different form for a chair, so I loved the split down the back – and the lightness of the design.
Konstfack University College of Arts Crafts and Design presented Objects and Other Stuff. One of my favorite “objects” was Shapes by Christina Hansen. She says, “I worked with a series of coffee tables in which I study the relationship between proportion, size and form. The project focuses on the sculptural qualities of the furniture as intriguing and interesting objects.” I love the use of such simple geometric shapes in solid forms of wood and concrete.
Another piece on the same stand that caught my eye was Collide by Henrick Georg Fredberg. It was inspired by a meeting of craft and industry – the hand blown glass taking shape over the machine-routed ash leg structure. Henrick talks about its “action and stillness” which I think perfectly describes what’s so beautiful about it.
Perhaps inevitably, this being student work largely from Scandinavia, sustainability was high on the agenda. The Furniture Prosthesis by Matthias Selden was one of the more interesting proposals – ‘make do and mend’ writ large.
He describes the project as “The result of a thought: A thought of; to not dismiss what at first glance might seem consumed, a thought of; to maintain and care for what we have got, not just because we should and must in our scarce world, but also because it is within the relationship with a think that affection and emotion emerges.” Which is a lovely thought – and one which enables him to celebrate the mending of furniture rather than hiding it away.
Another stand that was showing some interesting work was Danish design and business academy Teko. I loved Marianne Kleis Jensen‘s Frigg; named after the Norse Goddess usually portrayed as a wife and a mother. It’s designed to be a safe, embracing cocoon for one or two people. Despite its somewhat angular design; with a blanket and a couple of cushions, I think it would be perfect for curling up in on a cold winter’s evening.
On the same stand, I also spotted Fungus by Kristina Kjaer. She originally designed it to be hung on her clothing rack to provide a little extra lighting for her wardrobe. The result is a flexible and portable light that can be used anywhere that needs additional lighting. The lampshade is made of wool, the handle from ash and the cord is black textile.
Students studying Wood Orientated Furniture Design at HDK Stenby have worked closely with a goat farm and diary in Dalsland to create products that support and develop the farm. The Goats on Furniture project resulted in a distinctive stand, curated by Staffan Holm, and some really interesting products. My favorite was a bench by Fredrik Karlsson. The two metal structures at either end hold the wooden branches in place for the goats to play on and chew – once they are chewed through, they are replaced.
One of my favorite stands from last year was from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – and it delivered the goods again this year, with a stand entitled Metamorphosis. Carina Ellegaard presented A Piece of Knit – a braced knitted textile structure that, once dry, keeps its shape without requiring any additional framework. It looks almost as if it’s floating.
Astrid Tolnov Larsen says of Aedt: “The focus was on creating a narrative seat, that balances the aesthetic and the non aesthetic, the accommodating and the repulsive. The design of the bench is inspired by worms, guts and by organic takeover of the man-made.”
Feast for the Eyes by Ilona Danski was inspired by a desire to create an eye-catching and yet comfortable chair. Inspired by woven structures and optical illusions, it’s certainly the former. Sadly I didn’t get to sit in it to report back on the latter!
I enjoyed Lund University‘s stand last year and it didn’t disappoint last year. It is amazing to see how many different iterations of a chair, students can come up with. I liked the continuous lines of Anna Broman’s Cycle.
Johan Bang’s Gummitronan was a really innovative solution to the brief of ‘chair’ and not one I’ve seen the likes of before. And finally on this stand, I loved the untitled creature-like form by Kim Rosen.
Last but by no means least, I loved Thomas Jenkins‘ 80:20 shelf (below). It was inspired by Pareto’s principle, named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed both that in 1906 80% of Italian land was owned by 20% of the population; and that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. Thomas Jenkins takes this idea further by wondering if 80% of our happiness comes from 20% of our processions. If they do, he has created this shelf; the smaller box takes up 20% of the whole and provides a special space to store those special processions.
I think Note Design Studio’s “garden of new ideas” was incredibly successful. I found myself happily meandering around the space, in and out of stands, rather than formally marching up and down a grid.
With thanks to the Swedish Institute and the Embassy of Sweden in London for inviting me on the Stockholm Design Week press trip.