This month's Stockholm Furniture Fair affirmed the dominance of Scandinavian aesthetics on the interior design world.
Scandinavian design a natural fit for the season's rational philosophy
At the first-ever Home design show in London last month, more than a quarter of the exhibitors were Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish.
The region's influence in design and interiors is long-standing, but in the past couple of years especially, consumer appetite for all things Scandinavian has swelled significantly.
Sweden in particular has emerged as the main player, and as such its annual Stockholm Furniture Fair, part of Stockholm Design Week, is gaining importance on the design show circuit. Now in its ninth year, Stockholm Design Week featured 750 exhibitors and about 60 satellite events throughout the city, attracting more than 40,000 visitors from 50 countries. Overall, the focus was on rational design and quality of manufacture - a treat for the connoisseur rather than those seeking attention-grabbing ephemera. It was Scandinavian design at its most sensible.
Inga Sempe and Wästberg
This year's guest of honour was the French designer Inga Sempe, who created a welcoming lounge area at the entrance to the fair. She regularly collaborates with Scandinavian manufacturers, including Wästberg, with whom she has designed a new dimmable LED pendant light, which can be hung in a variety of ways, including from a hexagonal rail system.
Making its debut at the fair, Wästberg was established just four years ago but has already collaborated with such esteemed designers as David Chipperfield, Ilse Crawford and Claesson Koivisto Rune.
This Danish company excels in making beautiful objects and furnishings, and its new interlocking Kaleido trays by Clara von Zweigbergk were particularly desirable. The striking colour palette and ability to create different patterns are highly attractive, although using them would surely detract from the attributes that make them so appealing.
Another Danish firm, which has been in existence for nearly 50 years, is set to be on everyone's wish list. Gubi's designs, free of any superfluous detailing, manage to look both contemporary and timeless. The company aims to bring the best of the past to tomorrow's residential interiors, and the result is a collection that is smartly edited, demonstrating wit and flair.
A particularly eye-catching piece was the relaunched Dresser by the Swedish modernist designer Greta Grossman. It demonstrates superb quality, with a feel that conveys both vintage and contemporary, despite being designed 50 years ago.
The piece I particularly coveted, however, was the Jacques Adnet mirror, which nods to the designer's partnership with Hermès. It's classic craftsmanship at its best.
Another maestro of "future classics" and versatile furniture solutions, Asplund showcased new additions to its successful Tati range, designed by Mats Broberg and Johan Ridderstråle, and launched last year.
The designers like mixing things up. In this case, materials such as lacquered metal, wood and marble work together with a distinctive colour palette of lilac, grey, green and white. "We wanted to show simplicity and elegance by emphasising how many different possibilities there are in combining materials and visual features," explains Ridderstråle.
New pieces include a marble topped dining table that manages to give an impression of lightness despite the solid surface material - a contemporary heirloom in the making.
The Swedish flooring manufacturer Bolon unveiled an exciting collaboration with Jean Nouvel. The French architect interpreted Bolon's new Create collection with a spectacular installation that challenged both the concept of gravity and traditional ideas of flooring.
"When we first met Jean Nouvel," explains Annica Eklund, Bolon's managing director, "he was overwhelmed by the patterns and multiple dimensions that can be accommodated. Immediately the idea of blurring the edges between floor, ceiling and walls was born. It's a point of view that fits Bolon like a glove: nothing is impossible."
Comfort Generous sized daybeds and chaise longues emphasised the “snug”, both at home and at the office. Offecct’s modular Smallroom sofa, with a “box” on the side and a high wall to provide privacy and quiet on the other, can help create the impression of a smaller room.
Blue The coolest hues, from azure to cobalt, help bring about feelings of calmness and tranquillity. Upholstered seating, screens and room dividers, and pieces by Form Us With Love and Kvadrat stood out.
Wood This element, long associated with Scandinavian design, was particularly prevalent this year, in both stained and bleached furniture as well as flooring and storage solutions.
Retro There was a strong sense of nostalgia in homewares in particular, reinterpreted for the next generation. Geometric shapes and graphic patterns, animal shapes and muted mid-century palettes were seen in collections by Hay, Martin Nichols and Ferm Living.
Outside in The importance of plants and introducing lush greenery to an interior were highlighted by Offecct, Nola and Berga Form, which showed room dividers and plant pots configured within wall panels and low tables, plus furniture that works well both inside and out.