Emerging Talents at Stockholm Design Week

Sky's the Limit

The annual Stockholm Design Week just came to a close, and we’re very pleased to report that the young design set at this year’s installment was rife with fresh talent. Below, we introduce a few of the standouts—of whom we expect to see plenty more in the coming years!

Conceptual Play at HDK

While events are peppered across the city throughout the week, the heart of the festivities still lies within the Stockholm Furniture Fair itself. And though the bulk of the fair is dedicated to the latest offerings from commercially produced brands, the “Greenhouse”—an area within the larger fair dedicated to young talents—is, for us, the most exciting draw.

It’s here that HDK (the Academy of Design and Crafts at the University of Gothenburg) delighted attendees with “Almost Complete,” a conceptually driven presentation debuting objects that are only truly “complete” when observers interact with them. Highlights included Nihan Aycan’s multihued, translucent, and reflective (un)spaced installation, a screen-like object composed of acrylic glass and 3M dichroic glass folio. Depending on your position relevant to this super-pretty piece, as you look at, through, or around it, your perception of the space changes. As Aycan explains it, (un)spaced “challenges the viewer about what is virtual and what is real and fulfills its function by creating illusionary effects in the space that are not physically graspable.”

In a similar vein, Mikael Martinsson’s chic Occa Wall Lamp puts the transient beauty of a sunset in observers’ hands while, at the same time, questioning the virtue of that decision. As you move the round shade up or down along its brass track, the light changes color and intensity. According to the young designer, “Some things are not meant to be controlled. A sunset is by many considered to be a beautiful and complete experience. The fact that it doesn’t last and you can’t control it means that you have to enjoy it in that specific moment—or it’s gone. By giving the user the ability to control the sunset, the completeness of the experience is taken away. The lamp becomes an incomplete paraphrase and a pastiche of the original.”


Time-Honored Virtues at Capellagården  

Founded in 1960 on the island of Öland by Swedish design legend Carl Malmsten furniture , Capellagården is a craft school specializing in furniture making, ceramics, textiles, and organic gardening. The school’s booth, also within the Greenhouse, stood out from the rest for pure handiwork and craftsmanship. Reminiscent of Sweden’s midcentury design greats, the students’ handmade wooden objects were beautiful, functional, comfortable—and all the more lovely for evoking romantic visions of thoughtful, inspired design students working long into the night inside a workshop set on an idyllic island in southeastern Sweden—a welcome image anytime, but in particular when juxtaposed with much of the fair’s more commercial vibe. 

William Liljeblad’s Mallgrodan Chair Photo courtesy of the designer
Johanna Metsalo’s steam-bent oak Jyoti Chair—wide, low to the ground, and dominated by a tall, rope back—was at once dramatic and elegant. Peter Pålsson’s HUA Seat, inspired by “the modernists´ view on furniture as machines” and various seating found in old machinery and vehicles (and simultaneously calling to mind the quirky limbs of a praying mantis), featured an oak frame, a vegetable-tanned and hand-sewn leather seat, and arms and a backrest made of laminated birch bark, “a technique,” Pålsson informs us, “frequently used in traditional knife handles in Scandinavia and Finland.” But the belle of the ball was, in our opinion, William Liljeblad’s Mallgrodan Chair. Inspired by the work of his midcentury Scandinavian heroes, Liljeblad’s chair makes its mark thanks to exquisite lines, a wonderful “floating” seat and backrest, and an exciting, visual tension; it appears both confidently, gracefully settled in its place and ready to take off at a moment’s notice. According to Liljeblad, “It took me around two weeks to draw and design the chair and about four months to build two of them.”


Bibliophil by Studio Bonpart Photo courtesy of the designers
Other Greenhouse Goodies

Among a number of standout solo efforts, Studio Marfa’s sly, handmade Breton Shelves commanded a double take. Are they concrete? Are they wood? They are, in fact, concrete planks, cast in a flexible mold made of natural, bark-covered wood; the resulting pieces capture the wood’s organic details. According to Hamburg-based designer Janis Fromm, “The wood used during the process leaves its structure like a fingerprint in the walls.” 

Vienna’s Studio Bonpart also caught our eye with Bibliophil—an ash wood and powder coated steel shelf sporting magnetized spotlights that can be moved to suit the user’s preference. Danish-born, Herning-based VIA design student Mathias Bek’s Bliss Lamp plays with the power of reflection using powder coated steel, concrete and copper. According to the sprightly young Dane, he was “inspired by the light at blood moon and the surface of the planets of our solar system.” And Evelina Kollberg’s monumental Människofällan (Human Trap), an otherworldly, crocheted sculpture-slash-interactive-adult-playground, was arguably the most surprising and joyful object of the week. According to Kollberg: “I, as a woman, honor the female craft tradition—crocheting and maximizing volume to take up space in the room.” 


Past, Present, Future at Stockholms Auctionsverk

Finally, beyond the fairgrounds, Stockholms Auctionsverk and Svensk Form hosted Young Swedish Design: Past, Present, Future, an exhibition and auction of works by Ung Svensk Form (Young Swedish Design) Award winners from the past 18 years. One of the most inspiring shows of the week—and a tribute to Sweden’s ongoing stable of young talents—the presentation placed award-winning works beside newer objects by the same designers. Curator and designer Nick Ross posed the question, “Where are they now?” with some wonderful results. Notable objects included Petra Lilja’s Neon Sky Light, Katrin Greiling’s minimalistic DREI Pendant Light, pieces from Ross’s own Little White Lies series, and Jenny Ekdahl’s cabinet, Dear Disaster.


It was a fab week for sure, and one we walked away from with a ton of inspiration. Keep an eye out for more works by these up-and-coming designers! 

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