Making a show of it - Issue 72 - Magazine | Monocle

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“Stockholm is the only furniture fair that’s working properly in Scandinavia,” says Driton Memisi, co-founder of Danish design studio Frama. “Copenhagen doesn’t have one single design week and Oslo has something only every second year.”

Running for five days in February, Stockholm Furniture Fair attracted more than 35,000 people. For Finns, Danes, Norwegians and Swedes, it is still the only significant showcase to play to the hungry local market. It’s never been the most global (with the number of architects, buyers and designers up here, it’s never had to be) although many exhibitors mentioned a higher number of US, Australian and Middle Eastern architect and designer visitors. Located in Hall A, close to the behemoths of String and Carl Hansen & Søn, six-year-old Frama’s presence reinforced the ongoing importance of Stockholm to younger studios. For these designers it’s the best place for toe-dipping into the market. “We did it because it’s our home market,” says Memisi. “And we wanted to test the reaction of the brand.”

The boys at Frama weren’t the only young guns at the show. This year’s fair marked the launch of “Twelve” – a section dedicated to the portfolios of 12 Nordic designers. All of them have items in production but need a leg up to get their prototypes pushed through to manufacturing. Jonas Wagell is the founder of Stockholm-based studio jwda. He’s presenting lighting he has designed for Normann Copenhagen and Bsweden, plus a new set of serving utensils he’s trying out. For him, Twelve is an invaluable platform to show his work out of context of producers. “It’s rare to find these opportunities except for young or unestablished designers,” he says.

As Wagell points out, designers in the midway stage of their careers are often neglected at these fairs, where graduates (who get their own showcase at Stockholm in the “Greenhouse” exhibition rooms, similar to Salone del Mobile’s Satellite show) and the giants are not. With Twelve, the Stockholm organisers have now managed to piece together a total food chain of talent.

Inevitably though, the big boys still reigned. While brand new launches were few and far between (after imm in Köln and Maison et Objet in Paris and before Salone del Mobile in April, many of the established brands tend to hold their breath during Stockholm), there were a handful of interesting re-issues. Artek presented Yrjö Kukkapuro’s Karuselli armchair and ottoman, designed in 1964; Danish brand & tradition showed its eternally popular Mayor sofa, designed by Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen in 1939; and Carl Hansen & Søn launched Hans Wegner’s ch88 chair, first designed in 1955 but never put into production.

With one of its wishbone chairs being paper-corded before visitors’ eyes, the presence of Carl Hansen & Søn this year was notable. “We’ve been away for four or five years and we thought we’d try it again,” says ceo Knud Erik Hansen. The upbeat mood at Carl Hansen & Søn’s stand summed up the overall nature of this year’s fair. Has the company’s return been a success? “We’ll come back, definitely,” says Hansen, with a smile.

Five favourites:

  1. Jonas Lindvall
    A prototype produced by Stolab, the Harrow chair is by Malmö-based designer and architect Jonas Lindvall. Harrow is handsomely proportioned and available in oak. It goes into production in May.

  2. Nikari
    Finnish firm Nikari – known for working in blond birch and ash timber – launched the Aksi collection at Stockholm, the company’s first foray into non-wood items. The Platta modular sofa system, made of plywood and steel and designed by Yrjö Kukkapuro, was particularly eye-catching.

  3. &tradition
    Debuted at IMM in Köln in January, the Copenhagen Pendant SC6 by Danish firm &tradition was des-igned by Space Copenhagen. Inspired by the old gaslights of their home city, the designers added a touch of Japanese lantern on the drawing board.

  4. Massproductions
    Stockholm-based duo Chris Martin and Magnus Elebäck displayed their new modular sofa system, appropriately called Anyway Sofa. It’s available in two back heights, two seat heights, two- or three-seater components and with or without arms. Whichever way you go for, Martin’s design is elegant and comfortable.

  5. Fjordfiesta
    The Norwegian firm Fjordfiesta launched the re-issued Krobo coffee table-cum-bench, originally designed by Torbjørn Afdal in 1960. Available in both walnut and oak, and in two different heights, the bench also has its own range of accessories: a set of boxes and cushions, designed by duo Anderssen & Voll. A Norwegian classic: now all made in Italy.

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