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The Enlightenment Series by Boris

Swedish designers in Hong Kong explore sustainability as religion

by Richard Prime in Design on 07 May 2012

It's easy to become "design blind" at the world's biggest design exhibition, I Saloni, and those rushing around to see the blockbuster names run the risk of missing the small gems hidden throughout. One such discovery for us was Boris, a Hong Kong-based company born of Swedish ex-pats trying to live as close to their suppliers and manufacturers as possible. Founders Katarina Ivarsson and Anna Karlsson started the company in 2009 and have since developed a unique style of work blending design, sustainability and technology in a way which is fast becoming the signature hallmark of Scandinavian output—even if it is based in another country.

This year the company presented its new collection, the Enlightenment Series, which explores the notions of multi-ethnicity and the part played by religion and spirituality in our contemporary lives while also focusing on sustainability. "In the light of different beliefs and with mixed religion touch points we present this series," says Karlsson. "Religion is about believing in something and this is our reason for the religious perspective—personally, we believe in sustainability and want to show this devotion in our products."

"We wanted to ask what happens when you dig deeper into the subjects of sustainability and religion from a design perspective," adds Ivarsson. "What are we actually devoted to? Consumerism or sustainism? How important are the objects around us from a spiritual perspective and can we as designers fabricate spiritual products'?"

With the symbolic collection the company has paid close attention to the sustainable details for each piece, whether through efficient energy consumption during production or proper selection of materials. Each piece follows a specific train of spiritual thought—for example, the Seven Piece Mirror centers on a number with many spiritual connotations, from the seven chakras in Buddhism, to Christianity's seven days of creation, to the more literal like the number of years bad luck you'll get on smashing a mirror. Boris gives each piece of the mirror an added aesthetic touch to tie in the design elements found in places of worship. On a more directly visual level, the rosary necklace adds its form to the Rosary Lamp, with the beads adding structure to the otherwise slack form.

The Confession Box places a modern twist on the Catholic confessional, combining traditional materials with advanced technology. "When you place your phone into the box it will automatically recharge via inductive charging while also making a backup of your information. By doing so we mimic a procedure not far from the classic ritual of lightening ones load and coming clean," explains Karlsson.

The ruffled Omikuji carpet references the fortune strips of paper left at Shinto shrines. "Inspired by the process of collecting prayers, we tied 1764 wishes together when we made the carpet," says Ivarsson.

This combination of strong conceptual narrative and more accessible aesthetic and technique attributes sets Boris apart. For more information on the Enlightenment Series and other collections, visit the website.

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