View Slideshow

Online furniture retailer Hem has opened its first showroom in the heart of the Swedish capital.

Located on the ground floor of a brass-clad art museum, the glass box is surrounded by the green space of Vasaparken and showcases the brand’s latest collections, which include collaborations with designers such as Philippe Malouin, Max Lamb and Luca Nichetto.

Originally established as One Nordic in 2012, Hem is one of the online pioneers in the furniture and home accessories market. “There is all this beauty [in the design industry] that normal consumers and the rest of the world never takes part in,” Hem founder Petrus Palmer told Design Milk. “It doesn’t really trickle down into the rest of the community, and they are left with few options, and low quality options. I wanted to do something that was both beautiful and accessible, so I started what was to become Hem.”

Petrus established One Nordic and then seeking investment and online scale sold to two years later. “All the other players in the design industry were hopelessly offline, and at Fab they championed online,” he says. “They did sell a lot of nice brands, and they did reach large audiences with products from the design world so we thought it was a good match, but we also saw it was probably going to be a wild ride.”

He wasn’t wrong and today Petrus himself describes Fab as “the biggest e-commerce site that famously crashed and burned.” Petrus and Fab worked together in Berlin for 18 months and together launched Hem. They bought Discipline’s back catalogue, enabling them to manufacture more products by designers One Nordic had already worked with and access new designers’ work too. But it wasn’t to last.

“We changed pace five times in three years – it was hard to keep up,” says Petrus. “My vision has always been clear, to provide quality products at a good price and make them available to lots of people. But during the journey, we had other people with other visions, who wanted quicker results and were willing to compromise in ways I just wasn’t, which was what made us break loose in the end. Now we are an independent company. It came to be in a very turbulent way, but I am happy with the result.”

And looking at the first physical manifestation of that result, the showroom and office space designed by Hem in collaboration with Swedish duo Förstberg Ling, filled with products that meet Petrus’ three values: “working with the best designers, quality without compromising sustainability, and accessibility”, you can see why.

Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven writer and keynote speaker championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.