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  • Rhona Jamieson

Stockholm Furniture Fair 2023 - Where Sustainability Took Centre Stage

Updated: May 30, 2023


Historically, Stockholm Furniture Fair has been a must visit for all that’s good about Scandinavian furniture design. We jumped at the chance to get back there this year to find out how it has developed as a show and whether it has maintained its relevance in terms of design and workplace wellbeing.

This was one of the first recent design shows where sustainability and the need to preserve the earth’s resources was front and centre. It wasn’t just the furniture that was walking the walk but also the layout of the show and the construction of the stands themselves.

The Nude Edition was a collection of small stands made from recycled packaging waste that will be recycled again after their use. It comes after feedback from exhibitors who have been looking for a paired down alternative to the traditional stand that also reduces the climate footprint.

Meanwhile, the Now or Never exhibition specifically showed the difference our choices of materials and products can make on the level of emissions that are produced. Different materials were displayed next to each other to show just how much you can get for one kilogram of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2 E).

Many manufacturers were showcasing products that were designed to either be more recyclable or made from a higher proportion of planet-friendly materials. Humanscale brought their Path chair which is billed as the world’s most sustainable task chair. It’s one of a number of their products that are certified climate positive as their manufacture actually gives back rather than just using natural resources.

There were also some other innovative ideas on how to make office furniture more sustainable. These chairs called Change from Joel Öman Adsjö, Robin Boström and Sebastian Hedin, were designed as modular pieces where sections could be swapped in or out if they become worn or just for a new look.

We were particularly struck by this piece from Felix Oloffson and Svante Hallgren which was made from sheets of cardboard eroded by the ocean. There were also numerous examples of products made from unusual materials like this one by Lovisa Ingman which is made from recycled keyboards, fridges and boat tarpaulins.

What was also striking was how recycling bins, once hidden away in our homes and offices, are now design items by themselves and integral parts of interior layouts.

A key design theme we noticed throughout the show was the use of more muted colours. A more subtle colour pallet of natural greys, greens, browns and blush tones were used on many pieces. Brighter colour was reserved for accessories and accents.


We also saw texture everywhere, not just on seating but also desking, tables, floors and walls. These tables by Nathalie Van Reeth for Bulo were made of paper while many of the examples of upholstery were extremely tactile.

Popular as ever was the use of biophilia to bring the outside in, not just through planting, but also in the use of textiles, acoustic screens and other accessories.

If the outside wasn’t being brought inside, it was left outdoors successfully by companies like Fermob, Lovissa and Cane Line who had taken outdoor furniture to another level of detail.

Several organisations used Stockholm as their launchpad for new product launches with two in particular standing out for us.

Offecct unveiled three new ranges including Sou by Teruhiro Yanagihara and Pauline by Pauline Deltour, which was sadly to be her last design before she passed away in 2021.


The one that caught our eye the most though was Ronja Reuber’s Nomole stool, her first ever design which started out as degree project. It was great to chat with her and learn how the name comes from the expression ‘no more, no less’ as she wanted to create a minimalist piece that used as little material as possible without compromising on useability or aesthetics.


The other launch that attracted our attention was Artek’s exciting new lighting range Kori. Much of this company’s existing lighting collection dates from the 1950s and the classic look of this new range means it will sit well alongside them. Meaning ‘basket’ in Finnish, these new pendant, floor and table lamps create a warm atmosphere by diffusing the light.

Historically, Stockholm has been known for its lighting collections as well as its furniture and this year did not disappoint, with a wide variety of unique shapes, colours, textures, and materials. There was also an emphasis on the technical side of light warmth and wavelength which reflects lighting’s increasingly well-understood place within the overall workplace wellbeing conversation due to the way it affects the body’s circadian rhythm. A good example of this was Bakker Elkhuizen’s Energy By Light that changes colour throughout the day to help increase productivity.

Stockholm Furniture Fair should be congratulated on its exceptional focus around the next generation of designers. A large part of Hall C was given over to highly imaginative creations and practical solutions. This year marked 25 years of Young Swedish Design, an award and exhibition that showcases young designers from Scandinavia. We left the show optimistic that the next generation of Scandinavian designers are ready to meet the significant challenges of sustainable design.

We enjoyed catching up with old friends from the likes of Arper, Interstuhl and Bla Station.

There were very few British or US brands exhibiting, but a highlight was the collaboration between Bisley, Anglepoise and Deadgood, and it was great to see these iconic brands working well together.

Plenty of talk at the show focused on who wasn’t exhibiting, and the growing influence and success of 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen. Much like at NeoCon and Orgatec last year, the questions on everyone’s lips were whether hall based exhibitions are losing out to the location based events such as Clerkenwell Design Week and 3 Days of Design. Perhaps Salone del Mobile in Milan, which incorporates both hall based exhibitions and city showroom elements, will tell us more this April.

 

By Paul Simons, Director at Wellworking

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