“Our goal is to become the world’s most sustainable company,” says Jan Christian, the young entrepreneur behind Vestre, the historic Norwegian company that has produced furnishings for urban spaces for 70 years.
Jan – the third generation at the helm of a business founded by his grandfather in 1947 – has clear ideas: “All our products have to obey three rules: to last in time (there is a bench we produced and sold in 1970 that is still there, in its place, and the signs of time have not changed its appearance or its functional quality); to use only renewable energy; to use only sustainable and local materials (wood and steel, for example, come from the Scandinavian area).”
The positive results of this policy are easy to see. In 2016 the Oslo waterfront, featuring the Bloc series of furnishings by Vestre, was named the best Waterfront Promenade in the prestigious international Wan Award.
In April this year the Norwegian firm won the bidding for the urban furnishings of Times Square in New York, recently transformed as a pedestrian zone in a project by Snøetta (see the May issue of Interni, pages 46/53).
April – that’s the name of another outstanding product by Vestre – was recognized as the most sustainable bench in Europe, obtaining the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, one of the strictest certifications regarding the entire life cycle of a product.
Also from the viewpoint of social impact on the urban fabric. Espen Voll, the veteran designer of Vestre, who created the super-ecological bench with Tore Borgersen and Michael Olofsson, explains: “From the outset of my collaboration with Vestre, many years ago – I won a competition held by the company when I was still a student – the idea was to design not a single element, but a system of furnishings.
The aim was to give rise to ‘organic landscapes,’ places capable of creating moments of socializing and interaction in the contemporary metropolis, not necessarily in closed spaces; in short, the idea is to trigger opportunities to spend time together outdoors, even in the city, like being in the middle of nature, in a park…”
The exhibition during the Fuorisalone, entitled “Nordic life in urban spaces,” designed by Voll, set out to open the doors of a new culture of street furniture, presently developed for the most part in northern Europe.
The task is to combine design, socializing and environmental awareness in an innovative but also playful vision of urban furnishings. A proving ground for the regeneration of urban spaces to experience and above all to share.
Text by Laura Ragazzola