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Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2014

Budding designers shine with bright colors, smart materials and folklore inspired themes

by Richard Prime in Design on 18 February 2014

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Stockholm's Furniture & Light Fair is always full of surprises. Being one of the more isolated events on the international design calendar, the fair serves as a kind of testing ground for the onslaught that is Milan's annual Salone taking place each April. Yet this year the tone was somewhat different—in addition to the emerging talents on display, 2014 saw a number of established studios collaborate with large Swedish producers. Rather than recap these studios' various rehashes of their signature styles (again), we headed off the beaten track to shine a light on some new blood and the unsung heroes of Sweden's design scene.

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One of the brightest highlights of the fair came in the shape of the Ando panel, the work of Daniel Svahn for design juggernaut Offecct. Sound-insulation panels have become ubiquitous in workplaces across Scandinavia—a necessity due to the abundance of wooden and concrete office floors.

The Ando panel is named after Japanese architect Tadao Ando, whose use of concrete regularly makes a decorative feature of the relief holes left from casting. Svahn's panel is made of a gray, lightweight compressed felt, which aside from diffusing unwanted noise also pays visual tribute to Andao's trademark material. And as Offecct's stand demonstrated, the panels look incredible when used on a large scale. Additionally, Svahn had other works scattered across the fair, including his weighty picnic benches made from giant cubes of raw softwood, bound together by industrial container strapping, as well as some more conceptual pieces from his growing and varied body of work.

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Another name familiar from past visits to the fair was Studio Glimpt, who continues to travel across the globe to work with artisans in deprived areas. Its Prehistoric Alien tables were the upshot of a 2012 trip to Peru in which Glimpt worked with crafts cooperative, Artesanos Don Bosco, and the artisans from the small village of Yungay. The series of three tables feature colorful, chiseled surfaces that contrast with smooth raw wood and circular glass tops. Should someone give Glimpt a round-the-world airfare, the results would be wonderful to chart.

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In the Greenhouse—the fair's dedicated hall for young designers—was the very talented duo of Farvash Razavi and Micheal Bastion and their label Very Very Gold. Curiosity and adventure permeates their creations, fueled by Razavi's reputation as one of Scandinavia's true masters of materials. Tables formed of gold cubes look like they've been built by opulent bulldozers and contain 3D holographic film within. The duo's Mirror Mirror Lamp resembled the gleaming face of a Caribbean steel drum, polished to a high shine and with a strip of halogen slicing across its face. Impactful, in a word.

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Elsewhere in the Greenhouse was the Kosmos Project, a studio set up by Ewa Bochen and Maciej Jelski. On display was a glorious riot of color in the firm's collection which interpreted the relationship between the civilized and the wild. For the Collective Unconsciousness collection, inspiration was found in Polish folklore; depictions of a wolf, bear and bird of prey are used to create repeats for rugs, bent-metal wall hangings and other home adornments.

Oslo's Kunsthogskolan (National Academy of Art) took a different, more cerebral route for its installation. Refreshingly, the students left their work in Oslo and installed a large, sheer-fabric cube into which the visitor stepped. Beamed onto the cube's translucent innards were short films showing each designer talking about their work and influences in a series entitled "What does the box say?"—perhaps a cheeky nod to Norway's viral song about the fox. A bold project, it served as a reminder of Stockholm's punchy shows during the late 2000s.

Images by Richard Prime and courtesy of their respective brands

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