Sustainability has been on everyone's lips for years, but it is now a reality in product design.
In Richardson Seating, we have been discussing the interest in sustainable Scandinavian design for some years. In any case, at this year's Stockholm Furniture Fair (SFLF), Nordic manufacturers are taking concrete steps in this direction. This article written by the Swedish and Danish editorial teams tells you how the big Scandinavian publishers are at the forefront of sustainability and material recovery.
Manufacturers use scrap. The Swedish company Stolab is known, among other things, for its Lilla Åland chair, designed by Carl Malmsten in 1942. Now, a sibling made from waste has arrived: the Lilla Snåland stool, which is made from offcuts from Lilla Åland's production, specifically 14 pieces per stool. It is a perfect example of how recycled furniture can become a design icon.
Swedese has also discovered the beauty of waste materials. Last year, the Swedish company already presented this mirror made from discarded wood, which has been shown again with another relief on the frame in this edition. In any case, and although it is not visible in this image, the mirror is reminiscent of an open mouth, with the relief of the wood resembling thick lips. It is enough to make an effort to turn it mentally to see the effect we refer to.
The influence of another Swedese signature piece, the Lamino chair, is seen in this table with curved legs and handles by the designer duo Front, which is also made from scrap wood.
They are innovating with natural materials. One of the most interesting new sustainable products we have seen at Greenhouse. In this area, emerging designers and design schools have the opportunity to show their prototypes. Young Danish designer Nikolaj Thrane Carlsen, together with his company Tang Form, has presented The Coastal Furniture chair, whose seat is made from two different types of seaweed. Its legs are made of recycled bamboo, and the whole is assembled using only four nuts and bolts.
"I simply wanted to create an environmentally friendly alternative to today's furniture industry, where most products are made of wood, metal, and plastic and where very little is recycled," he says. He found inspiration on the small Danish island of Læsø, where eelgrass- a type of seaweed- is common along Danish coasts and has traditionally been used to construct roofs, some of which have lasted more than 300 years.
To transform the algae into a material suitable for a chair, Carlsen experimented with different types of glue until he came up with using carrageenan: a component extracted from red algae used in the food industry thicken and stabilize foods. "By mixing the powdered carrageenan with water, then adding the eelgrass, I ended up hitting on an algae dough,'" he says. After molding it by hand and leaving it in a slow oven for two days, the material became a robust and firm chair.
Another statement of sustainability was made by the Swedish firm Baux, with which, for example, Stella McCartney works when designing her stores. Its eye-catching stand based on sound-absorbing acoustic pulp panels made from 100% organic materials was among the highlights of this edition.
The sound-absorbing interior panels were created in collaboration with the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm and are made primarily of cellulose pulp. "When it became clear that we could organically mimic nature's characteristics, such as the fire-retardant properties of roots or the water-repellent ability of flowers, we realized that we were onto something really interesting and revolutionary," says founding partner Fredrik Franzon.
Surprising products around recycling. When more and more attention is being paid to plastic consumption and waste in the world, it is legitimate to wonder if we can't reuse some of the plastic in the production of furniture. However, Danish company Houe believes that we can and should demonstrate this with the Falk chair: a design by Thomas Pedersen produced in Randers, Denmark, from plastic recycled directly from household waste from homes in the area.
Houe is crucial that the chair not look recycled despite this emphasis on sustainability. "We wanted to make a chair as beautiful as any other non-sustainable chair," says founder Lars Houe.
Anti-design. When something is well designed and functional, there is no need to buy anything new. Consequently, a different way of thinking and understanding the concept of sustainability is born. We could baptize it as 'anti-design' because the need to buy new furniture ceases to exist or, at least, is reduced.
British designer Jasper Morrison's collaboration with Iittala falls into this anti-design category. His new Raami tableware collection is so simple that the term is almost a cliché. The teapots, plates, bowls, wine glasses, and tumblers dream of designing something so iconic that even a child can draw.
New designs built to last. A look to the past. Looking back to a time when furniture was made and bought for life is also sustainable because it encourages responsible consumption.
In Sweden, one of the big publishers of new products throughout 2018 has been the newly renovated Nationalmuseum. The large 19th-century building has been extensively restored. At least 20 different Nordic manufacturers have been commissioned to make tableware, textiles, and furniture for the museum under the supervision of renowned Swedish designer Matti Klenell.
One-piece stands out among all those in this new collection commissioned by the museum, both for its innovative design and for reflecting the love and respect for children in the Nordic countries. The stool is seen in the center of this photo, surrounded by a thick, gold-colored plastic ring, a food tray that folds up like a kind of halo and adds a touch of elegance to this functional chair. Designers Anna von Schewen and Björn Dahlström call the chair Lilla Skatt (Little Treasure).
The sum of all trends. Bringing all these trends together is the NM & 040 chair: one of the products commissioned by the Nationalmuseum and decidedly oriental in style. Designed by Matti Klenell, it was created in the historic Larsson Korgmakare workshop in Stockholm's Old Town. It is produced locally, with an international style but with a simple design—nordic touch and manufacturing with sustainable materials. In short, the Nordic trends of 2019 in one chair.