The Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair is the world’s largest exhibition for Scandinavian furniture and lighting design, with a focus on both home and public environments. All major Scandinavian brands are represented. The fair also hosts Greenhouse, an excellent exhibit area for design students and independent designers. Altogether, the fair offers a fantastic opportunity to soak up the Nordic trends influencing the design scene both locally and globally at this very moment.
At this year’s fair, exhibitors chose to present not only finished products but glimpses of the sketches, prototype iterations and craftsmanship that go into realizing well thought-out designs. Showcasing the craft of design prompts reflection on its value not only as an end result, but also as process. This fits well with the prevailing authenticity trend; as never before we are looking for honest, meaningful and long-lasting products and experiences.
The Tomorrow Collective, a group of students from the School of Industrial Design in Lund, presented the most interesting manifestation of the authenticity theme at the fair. Their ecosystem of modern tools and systems explored ways of living sustainably and independently in the future, inspired by knowledge and craft from the past.
The flexible workplace
Adaptable workplaces are a global trend that showed up in various shapes at the Stockholm Furniture Fair this year. Activity-based offices and mobile workers were targeted with quick and easy solutions that adapt workplaces for different activities and purposes. We saw a range of variants on the “secluded” theme: appealing hideaway sofas and work spaces that offer some degree of privacy within increasingly open office landscapes. With an increasing number of people working remotely, home office solutions that allow for quick shifts between private and public were another rising theme.
Solutions that improve air and sound quality
The furniture business may not be the most tech-savvy sector, but at this year’s fair we did see indications that established brands are making an effort to integrate smart solutions into everyday pieces. Improved air and sound quality were in focus, with producers putting forward increased well-being and productivity as benefits.
One notable piece was a sound-absorbing tabletop that also provides fresh, filtered air. We observed smart acoustic solutions that blend seamlessly with interiors and double as wall decorations, space dividers and even light fixtures.
Refined simplicity, honest materials and craftsmanship are values traditionally associated with Scandinavian design – values that are perhaps more relevant than ever in light of the current quest for authenticity. At the Stockholm fair there was great focus on details that highlight the construction of a product, and clear divisions between parts and materials. Showcased materials were predominantly genuine fabrications, including wood, leather, metal, ceramic, marble and wool.
Although we saw a lot of familiar, reassuring shapes in timeless interpretations of the Scandinavian furniture design heritage, there were also a few new tendencies. We saw silhouettes with an increased lightness, with transparent thin tube forming a base or an entire furniture piece. Linear, super-thin sofas were another variation on the graphic theme. Another tendency we noted was soft textured sofas and poufs that wrap and engulf to add new meaning to the word “comfort.” On another note, there was a clear movement toward bolder post-modern shapes with clear geometric properties.
Color, material and texture trends
The overall color scheme was partly influenced by the white and muted pastels with splashes of brighter colors that have dominated Nordic design and interiors for the past several years. Deep and saturated colors (mainly blue and green shades) were fresh. We also noticed yellow and red tones, terracotta and wine-red hues in the direction of Marsala, Pantone’s Color of the Year.
Metals are still a key material, and we saw even more variations of warm metals (polished and matte) as well as green oxidized metals. The ongoing marble trend inspired experiments with new materials that feature marbled characteristics.
3D textures were carved or puzzled into wooden surfaces, braided into leather and wool, and sewn into fabrics. Tactility in fabrics was a clear trend, represented by texture and jacquard patterns woven into traditional textile materials. Innovative materials such as a woven metal mesh brought new tactile and visually appealing characteristics.