Stockholm Furniture Fair ’16

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of all things spatial design. For me, the really important thing about it, in general, is how it fits into life and reflects how life is changing – socially, economically, and politically. When it comes to our homes, we buy and collect things for reasons that tend to have to do with our lifestyle and identity, and identity is enmeshed in these other areas. How design reflects that in relation to all these other forces that impact it – that’s the fascinating part.

Stockholm Furniture Fair has returned all guns blazing and I was fortunate to be a part of it this year. And while it’s impossible to round up an event of such scale, I will foolishly attempt to do so. I couldn’t help but notice several reoccurring themes and developments that strongly reflect a cultural shift in the way we create and consume, so here are three trends that are currently shaking up design industry.

Craft Revival

What we are seeing now is really interesting time. We’re witnessing post-industrial nostalgia for pre-industrial craftsmanship. We long to see simple, more honest ways of making, yet as a society we are still completely reliant on machine made products. A lot of emerging brands, often at the forefront of the slow movement, shy away from mass scale production and chose to make things by hand. Brands in Scandinavia are fortunate as they can use proximity to local materials to their advantage and keep production local relying on technical “know-how” of local craftsmen. Small-scaleness, craft, closeness to roots – these keywords have been reoccurring time and time again.

Stockholm Furniture Fair

Blurred Lines

It’s now become clear that the creatives are changing too. Design, architecture, craftsmanship used to be different schools that co-existed like siblings who didn’t necessarily get along. These days the lines are blurring and disciplines are fusing, forcing designers to re-think the way they create and operate. We will see a growing number of collaborations and projects rooted in the exchange of ideas, concepts, strategies & skills.

One particularly interesting development is “fashionisation” of the furniture industry. What started as an innocent affair (fashion designers creating an occasional collection or collaborating with textile brands) grew into something bigger: furniture industry is successfully adopting aggressive, fast paced fashion business strategies.

Take young Danish brands like HAY, Muuto, Normann Copenhagen, &tradition for example, who understood the value of diversification and successfully capitalised on it by offering affordable accessories (cushions, candlesticks, baskets, blankets etc.). Think of it this way: you might not buy a new coat every season, but you might buy a new pair of gloves; as far as furniture is concerned that means you might buy a chic cushion or a candlestick every few months, but you don’t buy new sofas that often. Not only that, these brands are also taking the industry by storm by offering affordable furniture and selling the concept of Scandinavian home in a known style but a lot cheaper (high-street fashion brands have mastered this technique).

One more concept furniture industry is borrowing from fashion is embracing the role of stylists. There have been some amazing stand out displays at Stockholm furniture fair, my hands-down favourite composition by Doshi Levien for Swedish flooring company Bolon.
Stockholm Furniture Fair '16 Bolon
Brands are starting to realise how crucial styling and product photography are, as most consumers discover new furniture through websites and magazines. Historically, interior stylists have been tagging along photographers as their assistants. This is no longer the case these days as some serious talents are breaking the norms: interior stylists work on their own terms, forming their own teams, hiring photographers and coming up creative direction. I highly recommend making your way to Architecture and Design Museum in Stockholm to see an exhibition presented by award winning Note Design Studio, one of Sweden’s leading interior stylist Lotta Agaton and Residence magazine. It celebrates interior styling and demonstrates that presentation can make or break a product.

Stockholm Furniture Fair

Stockholm Furniture Fair

Stories And Honesty

Storytelling, honesty, transparency and real human content that speaks to who you truly are, not the persona you’ve built, is a growing trend in the design scene. Communicating your ethos, values and design philosophy is becoming as important as innovative ideas. We as human beings never get bored of stories and sharing, especially if it’s something meaningful and has nourishing value. It also relates to small-scaliness discussed earlier – when the business is not scalable, intriguing, honest narrative and communicating it well come into play.

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