If there's any upside to the financial crisis, it's the enduring emphasis on craft and artisanal production in the design industry. The "new austerity" has buyers looking to quality—of narrative in the design process, options and manufacture—as a selling point.
As companies continue to lure buyers with the added value of well-made products, there's no better example of the way forward than Stockholm company Zweed. Founded this year by Håkan Johansson, Zweed's ethos is simple: "To produce pieces of quality furniture locally with client's inspiration and ideas taking a central part of the design process." The designer stresses that the handcraft of each piece has to be of the highest possible quality—the idea being to create contemporary future classics which will grow with the user. In fact, he's worked hard with his locally-based cabinet makers to ensure than every piece can withstand a good kicking, essential to the longevity of a product in this day and age, while reducing waste and protecting resources in the long term. Further good news for the environment is that Zweed produces each piece locally, meaning transportation's footprint is kept low.
As for the pieces themselves and how they fit into this new customer-focused method of design, Zweed's outlook is very progressive. Take Moodi for example, a piece based on the classic '50s sideboard. "Those seen in Scandinavia show just how this design has weathered the test of time and changes in tastes and, over half a century later, remains as relevant as ever," notes Johansson. The Zweed twist gives the piece reversible sliding doors, which can be colored or finished using NCS Colours or natural woods, varnishes and oils. So, not only do you get to fit the colors to match your space but you can change them about as you see fit. If you get bored of the combinations, just give Zweed a ring and order more. The idea is both simple and individual, with more of an active story then something picked off the shelf.
Zweed's second product, Citti, is another piece which can be tailored to each client. Johansson explains that most coming to Zweed do so because they can't find a design solution to fit their tastes and needs without having to compromise in size, shape or color. Citti is a storage system based on a simple modular format; "You choose the size, depth, number of modules, color or finish and decide if you need doors or internal compartments," says Johansson. The beauty in the piece lies in the fact that by restraining the modular format, in terms of size of its constitute components, it can still be constructed by Zweed's traditional cabinet makers, but keeps the costs of these bespoke pieces low. Again, as the colors are based on the NCS Colour System, the client has literally limitless options.
Håkan's studio is open to all visitors while overseas orders are happily taken, it's simply a case of working out a budget, toying with colors and color combinations and then receiving a piece of pure quality that is personal to you and nobody else. What can be better to restore your faith in the act of consuming than an investment portfolio of good, well-made design?