Creative childhoods turned Fredrik Färg and Emma Marga Blanche into designers, but it was finding each other that turned them into Färg & Blanche – and a force to be reckoned with.
Fredrik Färg grew up in Sweden and was attracted to woodworking from an early age. “I loved making boats, as a child I spent all my free time in my father’s workshop making everything from small sailboats to later on radio-controlled motorboats and ice boats,” he says. He spent two years studying at a fine cabinet making school, and then completed a BA and MA in design at HDK design school in Goteborg, before working as an architect. But alongside that, he always had an interest in fashion, in particular, the work of the British-Turkish designer Hussein Chalayan and the late Alexander McQueen.
Meanwhile, Emma Marga Blanche grew up in France and was inspired by her mother’s work as an artist and an art teacher. “I was always painting next to her when she was creating something, I was allowed to use her materials,” says Emma. “She was also a ceramic teacher and I was in all her classes from the age of five until I was 12 years old. It was quite normal for her to include me in her creative process, so I learned a lot.” She went on to complete a BA in design from LISAA design and interior design school in France, before working as an art teacher in India and in a design gallery.
But it was when the pair met at the Stockholm Furniture Fair that the magic happened. “We met in Stockholm and and then exhibited at the same design festival in Berlin,” explains Fredrik. “We got together as a couple and then in 2011 we created an exhibition together, which we called 20 Designers at Biologiska, for which we invited 20 designers from 15 different countries to exhibit with us is a museum in Stockholm. We enjoyed working together so much that we decided to do it more, and eventually started a design studio together – since then we have done pretty much everything together!”
But that doesn’t mean it’s all plain sailing. “We argue a lot,” admits Emma. “But in some ways, that is the best part – because to argue you have to convince the other person, and after that, if we both agree on something that we believe in, then we know it is a strong enough idea to take forward. We discuss everything – I do most of the sketches and Fredrik does a lot of models and prototypes, but it’s an organic process and both of us are part of every decision.”
From their 400m2 studio in a former underground garage in Stockholm’s Södermalm district, they have gone from strength to strength, collaborating with established brands such as BD Barcelona Design, Gärsnäs, Petite Friture and Design House Stockholm, as well as producing their own collections and limited art pieces for galleries. What defines all of their work is a sense of experimentation and playfulness.
The Emma chair and the F-A-B collection explored ‘garments’ that chairs could wear for different occasions – the chairs are manufactured by one of the oldest shaker chair factories still in activity in Sweden, while dresses are handmade in the atelier of the design duo in Stockholm. “Combining craft and high technology is a way to be a part of the future, while keeping old knowledge alive,” say Emma. “Also in some way to visualize that objects are made by hand even in an industrial way and that the craft can add value to this process – there is very often a person behind the object but most objects hide that.”
Their Succession stools are ‘dressed’ in leather and textiles tied with ropes and then baked, in order to create new shapes. In 2014 they collaborated with architect Erika Januger and choreographer/dancer Oskar Frisk to create a collection of furniture and a film entitled Longing to Fly, Longing to Fall that explored the notion of space. For their Wood Tailoring collection, they experimented with what they call “extreme sewing” – and latest experiment extends that idea to metal.
“We have been experimenting with extreme sewing for furniture for a long time, and pushing the boundaries of what is possible to do with a sewing machine,” says Fredrik. “We started this project more than 10 years ago, but it was when we purchased the most heavy duty sewing machine on the market that we could really start to experiment and develop the wood tailoring technique. Our fascination in this was to mix a technique made for soft materials, and use it for hard material, this clash is something really interesting – and there is much more to explore in this contrast. We are now developing further our new Metal Stitching technique.”
They’ve also got outdoor sculptures, a new sofa, a lamp, and a ceramic collection in the pipeline. And after that? “Why not an interior for an airplane or going into fashion?” says Emma. “Everything is possible, it is all about the people we meet and share dreams with.” Whatever they do next, it’s sure to be exciting. Watch this space!