This weekend the Stockholm Design Week 2008 came to its peak. With over 40,000 visitors this is the biggest Nordic design event anchored by the annual Stockholm Furniture Fair and Northern Light Fair. We say "Nordic" since next to Swedish design, also works from Finland, Norway and Denmark are on show - a perfect occasion to see what design means up the cold north.
More pictures after the jump!
When we enter the grounds of the furniture fair, we directly walk into The Craft Cafe featuring the works from the American designer Stephen Burks with readymade objects from his work with Aid To Artisans organization. Right across to Burks' wall of light shines the "Magic Forest", an installation by Guilio Cappellini who is this year's Guest of Honour.
This international welcome clearly reflects the goal of the fair which is bringing news from the international design world towards the Swedes, who make out 80 percent of the visitors.
To see more design by the Swedes themselves we need to dive into the Greenhouse which is packed with young designers and projects by some twenty design schools in Scandinavia. The 'design density' makes it no surprise the organization is planning a major upscale for the fair in two years.
Sweden's school system actually offers free design education (!) and with courses in English it is no surprise we also meet students from abroad. Since most classes have no more than 20 students per year you can imagine the selection is tough and schools are clearly trying to challenge the best of the best.
Most designs at the Greenhouse all feature a kind of logic or functionality such as this flat pack seat which unites comfort and compactness. A strong contrast is this bubble-like chair from "The Fantasy Project" at the Lund University where young students need to use their imagination to create products based upon a fantasy world. Schools also use play as a educational method to create pleasure in using products.
Designboost (by David Carlson and Peer Eriksson) organizes a series of events to boost sustainable thinking during the design week. With a mobile design sofa they have design chats with invited participants to frequently touch the audience with sustainable thoughts and considerations.
At the Greenhouse they get into dialogue with Gabriella Gustafson and Mattias Stahlbom from TAF architects who designed the Greenhouse, a design village fully made out of low impact cardboard constructions - a clear sustainable alternative to the status quo of exhibitors in the neighboring halls.
For the Swedish visitors, Designboom's Mart offers a nice treat for souvenirs presented by designers from all over the world. Day five, most designers start to get tired but accordingly Stockholm has an enjoyable atmosphere after a hectic design week in Tokio.
Unlike the widespread Passagen at Cologne's furniture fair, the downtown program of Stockholm is rather compact. but this might change once the furniture fair itself is planning growth.
The "Future Living" is the biggest exhibition at the Konstfack, the University College of Arts Crafts and Design, which is currently based at an old production site of the Swedish telecom giant Ericsson. Here, some 20 designers present their works from magic carpets to do-it-yourself bikes.
The most colorful surprise is probably the 10 Swedish Designers store. They started in 1970 because the industry thought their patterns were "un-saleable, too advanced and non-commercial". Today, they created over 600 printed fabrics and wallpapers from Stockholm that people love to buy and children grow up with.
Full color galleries soon, with more design news from Stockholm.
Aart van Bezooijen is a Dutch optimist and motivator for materials in design. He lives and works in Hamburg where he founded Material Stories (2005) to inspire and enable the best use of materials to make design more competitive, creative and sustainable.
2011 he explored sustainable solutions from around the world during the "It's Not Easy Being Green" project with graphic designer Paula Raché. He co-organized the Materials Café exhibitions at the Hannover Messe in Germany, the world's leading trade fair for industrial technology. Since 2012, he works as Professor for Material and Technology Transfer at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle growing a new materials library.