Global furniture fairs are typically both business and inspiration. Attending the Stockholm Furniture Fair was no exception, and also came with the backdrop of a creative and diverse European metropolis. As a Seattle-based brand, a trip to Scandinavia also has some local currency. Our heritage here is rooted in Nordic culture, and a trip to that part of the world brings with it a unique sense of belonging and connection. For us, this was best honored with consuming copious amounts of coffee and a daily sampling of Swedish pastries.
At most fairs we see product introductions, new and existing brands, and a fresh study on trade show exhibit design, all of which tend to be provocative and energizing. Most compelling though are the emerging patterns, which range from material innovation to new form languages, and often point towards meta-trends or problems. Here are a few we observed at the Stockholm Fair:
The palette at the show was notable. Across all of the halls, we saw rich and soulful earth-tones complemented by occasional punches of intensity and bright color. Most exemplary of this pattern was Bla Station’s sectional modular lounge that in one fell swoop captured the color zeitgeist of the fair. Fritz Hansen, Fogia, Edsbyn, and Lammhults—each also had their version of moody earth-tone derivatives. Our takeaway: the effort to make work environments more human is a global trend that extends to color. With its reference to nature and playful bright highlights, the palette was relatable and reflective of a creative human touch.
Most major brands offered privacy-creating solutions. Categorically, these are enclosed micro environments, enveloping seating-based solutions, or boundary products such as screens, dividers, boards, etc. All were on hand, as well as an assortment of performative acoustical material products. The stand-out here for us was Glimarka of Sweden’s fence-like structures and partitions. Inspired by the vernacular of rural fences and sheds and their boundary creating function, the fabric covered slat-based designs offered the right amount of privacy with just-right exposure and awareness to one’s surroundings. The product was literally like a fence, and accordingly provided the duality of boundary and views that fences do so well. Our takeaway: Product mix in the workplace continues to shift to common and open area solutions. This is driving continued demand for adjacent or integrated acoustical and boundary products that can meter privacy and allow focus within open areas.
We noticed the attention and stage presence given to finely crafted upholstery. We were in the midst of firms such as Carl Hansen and Sons, Fritz Hansen, Erik Jorgensen, and many others that are known for excellence in upholstery craft, but the frequency of such products on show was rather high across the board. Soft seating and well-crafted upholstery were featured prominently through new products, unique details, and exquisite textiles. Our takeaway: Craft upholstery is emerging as a standard of excellence and differentiator, segmenting the premium brand market between those who can execute craft upholstery and those with lesser developed capabilities.
Fairs like Stockholm inspire, but they also keep us honest. They remind us of who we are and the standards to which a “memorable” brand must perform. We emerged more aware, energized, and connected, but also more humbled. A perfect outcome for a week at a trade fair.