Ask most people to name a Danish furniture designer and they will probably reply Verner Panton or Arne Jacobsen.
Ask them to name a Swedish furniture designer and the answer will probably have four letters – three of which are vowels.
Flat pack furniture is in itself no bad thing, but it is a little bit sad when a country that has so much furniture design talent to offer, is represented in the public consciousness by a universal brand.
Sweden are the partner country at this year’s Vienna Design Week and so naturally the store with the blue and yellow logo is omnipotent in the Austrian capital.
But not only them.
Aside from Stockholm architecture and design agency Claesson Koivisto Rune’s contribution to “Barock Splendour and Stainless Steel” one of the principle forum for Swedish designers was the Swedish.Light.Design.2010 showcase at the Swedish Embassy.
During his speech at the opening ceremony the Swedish Ambassador to Austria Hans Lundborg defined Swedish furniture as being simple, natural and functional.
Swedish.Light.Design.2010 demonstrated that it can also be innovative.
Karl Andersson & Söner, for example, were represented by amongst other items their ponoq and strip coat hanger systems. Two different approaches to the same concept – coat hooks that “vanish” when not needed.
With ponoq the trick is that the hooks lie flat in their mounting and can be flipped out when needed; with strip the hooks are revealed by bending the metal bar downwards and outwards- which not only releases the hooks from their housing but also gives strip a dynamic character and variable form.
Swedish.Light.Design.2010 also showed that Sweden does have a classic furniture tradition every bit as strong as Denmark.
In 1999 Lamino by Yngve Ekström was voted the 20th century’s best Swedish furniture design. Originally released in 1956 Lamino is a wonderfully light, elegant bentwood easy chair that belongs in the canon of great mid-20th century scandinavian design. Not only is Lamino a true scandinavian design classic, but it is still produced in Vaggeryd by swedese, the company Yngve Ekström founded together with his brother Jerker in 1945. And as any fool know, tradition is the best guarantee of quality.
And through collaborations with designers as varied as BarberOsgerby, Marina Bautier or Claesson Koivisto Rune, swedese also echo a central Vienna Design Week theme; remaining contemporary and competitive without losing sight of your roots and tradition.
As a brief aside, Yngve Ekström was once quoted as saying “To have designed one good chair is not such a bad life’s work” Although we can agree wholeheartedly having created our (smow)chair, we find naming your company swedese in an era before the internet existed is infinitely better. Sadly the URL “swede.se” was not registered early enough to secure the masters legacy.
A further highlight of Swedish.Light.Design.2010 for us was the chance to experience a couple of Nola’s “urban furniture” pieces in such refined splendour – a mix that worked wonderfully and once again underlined our belief that what this world needs is a little more bravery in interior design and a lot fewer “trend experts” telling us what looks good.
All in all Swedish.Light.Design.2010 provided a nice introduction to the variety of Swedish designer furniture producers; but more importantly for us it was a lovely warm up for February’s Stockholm Furniture Fair – another favourite on the (smow)blog calendar.