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Stockholm: The Best Place to See Swedish Design
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Stockholm: The Best Place to See Swedish Design

Picture of Sophie Finney
Updated: 25 October 2016
When one thinks of Sweden and design, Ikea invariably comes to mind. However, Swedish design is hardly defined by Ikea. Along with a number of other Scandinavian countries, Swedish furniture design played an influential role in defining the European design discourse in the post-war period.

In Sweden, design is highly regarded as a practice, an industry, and even a way of life. It is an important part of Swedish culture and as a result the country, especially its cities, has a lot to offer in the way of design. Proud of their heritage of good design, Sweden’s capital Stockholm, not surprisingly, boasts of excellent design museums that all have rich collections showing off Sweden’s design heyday during the 20th century. For example, the National Museum has one of the most formative collections of applied art and design from the 16th century to the present day. Other museums with some wonderful collections include the Nordiska Museet where one can see on permanent display an exhibition on Swedish interior design from the 1870s to the present. Also, running from 29th June 2013 to 22nd September the Moderna Museet has an exhibition entitled Pop Art Design. Stockholm also has a great number of annual and biannual design events that cover all aspects of design, from furniture and lighting to craft, interior design and fashion.



Stockholm Furniture Fair & Northern Light Fair

One of the world’s biggest events for Scandinavian furniture and lighting design, the Stockholm Furniture Fair and Northern Light Fair are not to be missed if visiting Stockholm at the beginning of February each year. The next event will be held from the 4th – 8th of February 2014 and promises to be even bigger and better than the hugely successful 2013 fair, which saw an attendance of 37,000 people from 58 foreign countries. Displaying work from hundreds of exhibitors, the fair showcases design intended for both the home and for public environments that gives a true taste of the current Scandinavian design scene. Within the fair there are a number of events, including Greenhouse, which shows the best of emerging talent. With this year’s exhibition space designed by Stockholm-based design studio Note, they chose ‘The Baroque Garden’ as their theme, aiming to create an open and communicative space that removes the invisible boundaries between exhibitor and visitor. Exciting, diverse and yet wholly Scandinavian, the Stockholm Furniture Fair and Northern Light Fair are a must for any design aficionado.



Stockholm Design Week

Running in conjunction with Stockholm Furniture Fair and Northern Light Fair, Stockholm Design Week sees events, exhibitions and talks happening all over the city, of which the Furniture and Lighting fair is just one. A highlight from the 2013 Design week was the Glass Elephant installation inside Stockholm’s Skeppssholmen Caverns, which belong to the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. This installation used glass pieces designed by a number of Swedish designers, including Whatswhat, Note Design Sutdio, Magnus Elebäck and Chris Martin of Massproductions, Johannes Carlström and Ăsa Jungnelius. The glasswork of each designer was then paired with an industrial robot that would carry out tasks such as shining spotlights on the work, gently wobbling them or brushing them with a feather duster. Creating a discourse between industrial design, craftsmanship and performance, Glass Elephant certainly fulfilled its purpose of diversifying and vitalising Stockholm Design Week. Highly innovative, elegant and poetic, this installation created the inspiring experience that the curators were aiming for. This week saw the whole of Stockholm unite under the influence of great design; it was not only the museum spaces that partook in the plethora of design happenings occurring all over the cities, galleries and downtown shops also took their turn at hosting design shows and exhibitions throughout the week.



Formex Interior Design Trade Fair

Happening twice every year in January and August, Formex is a trade fair specific to interior design organised by Stockholmsmässan. Open to anyone with an interest in this field, Formex is in fact the largest interior design fair for Nordic design. A meeting place for in the region of 850 exhibitors, Formex has in the past seen as many as 25,000 national and international visitors, as well as over 800 media representatives. This is a must for anyone with an interest in home textiles, soft furnishings and interior design in general, as it exhibits some of the biggest names in Scandinavian design, as well as some lesser known designers. This year, Formex is organising a Trend Zone for the third time in a row, where visitors are offered new inspiration and knowledge for the season ahead, in this case Autumn and Winter 2013/2014. In August 2013 we can expect to see trends in the forms of ‘isms’ such as eclecticism, formalism, maximalism and materialism, as organised by the Swedish Fashion Council.




Konsthantverkarna is a store and gallery on Södermalmstorg 4 at Slussen in Stockholm, Sweden and specialises in contemporary arts and crafts from both Swedish and international craftspeople. Displaying work in a unique array of materials including concrete, glass, ceramics, metal, wood and textiles, Konsthantverkarna has a range of beautiful everyday objects as well as exclusive items and conceptual art pieces to offer. In 2011, Konsthantverkarna celebrated its 60th anniversary, and is proud of its longstanding history within Sweden’s craft scene; it is in fact one of the oldest craft associations in the country. With 93 members currently involved in the association, it is also one of Sweden’s largest craft organisations, with some of the country’s foremost craftsmen exhibiting their work. Providing a place where the public can interact with the artisans themselves, Konsthantverkarna frequently holds exhibitions, presentations, and discussions on the subject of craft.



STHLM Design District

Such is Stockholm’s, and indeed Sweden’s, dedication to design, that the city has an entire district dedicated to design studios and stores. An area on the west side of Södermalm in Stockholm, the Stockholm Design District currently houses 29 well established brands within the fields of design, textiles, and furniture. These include brands such as Almedahls, a textile company that has over 150 years of experience in the field of fabrics and soft furnishings, Mitab, a leading Scandinavian design brand for interior design furniture, and Hess, a leading lighting solution company that has had great success on a global scale with both interior and exterior lighting. Often holding events on the topic of design, the Stockholm Design District is a must see for anyone with either a commercial interest in Swedish design or for anyone who simply wishes to experience the extent to which design is embedded in the Swedish culture.


By Sophie Finney