FROM THE NORTH
Way up north in the village of Harads, Britta and Kent Lindvallhad the idea to create a Treehotel, recreating the childhood treehouses of their dreams. Since its completion in 2010, Treehotel has grown to offer several unique rooms designed by some of Scandinavia’s leading architects and designers. Treehotel is a unique experience in the middle of unspoiled countryside: contemporary, ultra-modern tree rooms that blend seamlessly into the surrounding environment. The Treehotel alongside the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi attracts visitors from all over the world. Up north you will also find the internationally acclaimed Umeå Institute of Design, connecting industrial design talents from around the globe.
In Milan traces of the north can be found in the works of designer Monica Förster, who grew up close to the Arctic Circle in the very north of Sweden. Despite being one of Sweden’s most international designers, her work is often inspired by Swedish sami handcraft as well as international influences and high fashion. She is the creative director of Swedese and of the Bosnian company Zanaa, both with a prominent presence in Milan this year, and her studio is showing 15 projects in Milan.
From the south
In the south of Sweden, especially in Småland and Skåne, you’ll find several of the country’s most prominent furniture and interior design producers. The reason is simple: an abundance of forests and water, supporting both the furniture and glass industry. Many furniture companies have been family owned for generations, while some of the newer ones are taking another step into the future with new methods of sustainable production, new distribution channels and international collaborations. The beauty for the producers is to have all their suppliers and craftsmanship nearby, so they control the quality during the whole process. Sweden is also one of the few European countries where local production has increased during the past ten years. An increasing number of producers base their work on an environmental awareness that generates added value and international competitiveness.
Ikea, of course, being the most famous and largest contributor to the international image of Swedish design, still has its head office in Älmhult, Småland. This is where it all began with Ingvar Kamprad and where an Ikea Museum was inaugurated last year. In Milan, Ikea will create a micro festival reflecting on the idea of the future living room.
Just to name a few of the companies with their roots in Skåne and Småland present at the fair this year: Blå Station, Karl Andersson & Söner, Lammhults, String, Swedese, Zero, Örsjö and in Swedish Design Goes Milan: David Design, Minus Tio, The Freedesk, and Nordgröna, all with their own unique story. Individual designers such as Lisa Hilland and Louise Hederström have also participated in successful initiatives in Skåne in recent years. The New Map and Welcome to Weden, curated by Jenny Nordberg, is a match-making project between local producers and designers to offer a new future development, a collaboration with Malmö and Form/Design Centre. Southern Sweden Creatives is a parallel initiative aimed at supporting the internationalisation of southern creative industries and small designers and companies.
From the west
The west of Sweden, Västra Götaland, is the heart of Swedish textile production. Borås, the textile city, has been revived by the impressive Textile Fashion Center, Scandinavia’s leading arena for fashion, textile and design located inside the historic textile factories. Under the same roof are the Textile Museum and the School of Textile, producing new talent and radical innovations, such as new materials from fungus and smart textiles that can take us into a more sustainable future while still feeding our desire for the new. The traditional porcelain company Rörstrand, with its 300-year history, and the Lidköping porcelain factory are given new life through new designer collaborations.
There are also several furniture and interior companies in this part of Sweden, among them the internationally renowned Bolon and Kasthall in Borås and Offecct in the Tibro cluster. All three have a strong international presence and will be in Milan at the fair as well as in town.
The Gothenburg-based graphic designer Jörgen Nordquist has created the visual identity for Swedish Design Moves Milan and Gothenburg’s Tryckeri has published the map and posters on Swedish paper. Fredrik Färg of the duo Färg & Blanche, who are behind the exhibition Armour mon Amour in Teatro Arsenale, is also a native of Gothenburg.