Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2017

February 16, 2017

See all my photographs from this year’s exhibition on our Pinterest page.

lampshade

The 2m lampshade

One of the joys of this event is the diversity of products available in one location. Whether you are looking for domestic, workplace or hospitality applications, the variety is enormous and most of it comes with that extra ingredient of ‘Scandi Design’ flair.

Starting amongst the numerous lighting exhibitors, I was reminded of the dramatic progress in the development of low energy lamps, LEDs and their associated applications in recent years. The selection of lighting products for both domestic and commercial use was a delight. I was particularly impressed by the many designs merging traditional materials with the new technology. However, I was there to look at workplace furniture and, although it would be easy to spend my time creating a wishlist of products for my own home, there was work to be done!

nordic_deskInevitably, sit-stand desks are a mainstay of the workplace part of this event. The conspicuous difference from the UK is that they are no longer a novelty. This concept is over twenty years old in Scandinavia and, in Denmark, it is now mandatory to offer sit-stand desks to employees. In a mature market, every manufacturer’s portfolio includes sit-stand and differentiating themselves from competitors can be difficult. The current focus is therefore on aesthetics and many companies are hiding most of the essential steel components by encasing them in wood. I thought it was significant that I saw no evidence of the gimmicks such as illuminated desktops and hands-free height adjustment that are gaining ground in the USA. There is also no discussion about whether or not people use adjustable desks (a preoccupation in the UK): sit-stand is part of the regional culture.

Amongst the furniture manufacturers were several balance/wobble board variations to encourage exercise and movement whilst standing at the desk. These included everything from the most basic plastic device to an elaborate mini-surfboard. In the age of crowd-funding, even the most bizarre and unviable designs can at least get to pre-production stage if they have a funky health message and a clever video!

sofi_mesh2Scandinavia has been in the vanguard of workplace seating design for many years and the key regional manufacturers were all represented. Task chairs continue to evolve, offering greater comfort, more intuitive adjustment and improved aesthetics. A strong sustainability story is no longer topical since that too is now ‘business as usual’. As Aleksander Borgenhov, one of the designers, summed up the development process, the objective is to create ‘a beautiful object from something that is, in fact, a highly advanced machine’.

Beyond the task chairs, there was, as you would expect, lots of soft seating and other breakout furniture. These days, I believe the ranges available in the UK from our domestic manufacturers are as innovative, elegant and functional as any in the world. Some of the British manufacturers were also exhibiting and they certainly ‘hold their own’ in an international market. The line between workplace and hospitality products is now blurred to the point of extinction and it is easy to imagine products for offices in hotel lobbies or seating for canteens in bars and cafes.

sequesterAcoustics is one discipline where the design of decor and furniture merge. ‘Sound ergonomics’, as I like to think of it, is a fascinating topic. Many high back sofas, huddles and pods for varying work areas incorporate acoustic benefits into the design and its importance is now widely recognised as we grow to understand more about the links between wellbeing and productivity. One of my favourite furniture products addressing these issues is the cocoon-like Sequester (as it is known in the UK) which was being displayed by its Swedish designers.

Many acoustics specialists were also exhibiting. Acoustic panels and components continue to appear in a variety of shapes and sizes and using them as a design feature rather than burying them in partitions and behind images can be highly effective, especially since so many of them are very tactile.

In previous years, I have also spent time exploring the bathroom fittings and accessories, as well as other non-core activities, but there was no time this year and, in any case, such matters are probably of little interest to my audience!

In conclusion, it was an excellent event with lots to see. In terms of new products, I would say the theme was one of evolution rather than revolution. For me, such occasions are also a fabulous opportunity to catch up with old friends from around the world.

rebel_wallsMy favourite product? Actually my second favourite product (see below) but, completely randomly, I spotted the Rebel Walls stand when I stopped for sushi at lunch time. Their 3D trompe l’oeil wallpaper is stunning and the scope for bespoke designs is very clever. I shall be visiting their UK website when we move house later this year!

My one regret? The most exciting product I saw was not on show but in an exhibitor’s hotel room. It is still at the prototype stage and I am unable to tell you about it until later in the year! If you want to be one of the first to hear about it, you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter!

See all my photographs from this year’s exhibition on our Pinterest page


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