Increasingly intimate and local, but curated from a cultural point of view: thus was the 2024 edition of Stockholm Furniture Fair, that took place from 6 to 10 February. The strengths: sophisticated curation, dialogue between historic brands and emerging names, a sincere green conscience. With the consistent presence of Formafantasma as Guests of Honour

In Stockholm the word recession is not a taboo, just like the question "is there still a need for trade fairs?".

The response of Hanna Nova Beatrice, director of Stockholm Furniture Fair , is first and foremost cultural. Hence the curatorial approach that is attentive to the changes taking place in design (from the collectible phenomenon to sustainability practices) and to the identity celebration of Swedish design as an act of cultural resistance and safeguarding local production.

With the aim of "aiming at the connection between cultural and commercial projects" in the trade fair event, the choice of Formafantasma, comments Nova Beatrice, is “superfitting”, given the dual register of research and industrial production pursued by the duo. But also the last bastion of internationality.

The Reading Room of Formafantasma

“For us, an exhibition space is an educational tool” begins Andrea Trimarchi (Simone Farresin was excused for absence), met in front of the installation designed by Formafantasma.

Hence the concept of a temporary Reading Room, inscribed in a pink textile cocoon: "in practice we stage our bibliography: ecology texts are displayed on the tables, philosophy, design theory which are the theoretical basis of our research.

In the background runs a video taken from the Serpentine Gallery's exhibitionCambio (2018), a visual essay of our holistic investigation of the wood industry, which we then applied to the collaboration with Artek".

Unmistakably Aalto tables and stools (lit by the WireLine suspensions designed for Flos) furnished the space, but in the new Artek Forest< version /strong> which does not hide the imperfection of the wild birch.

“We carried out a long consultancy with Artek, studying the wood supply chain. Trees are starting to show signs of climate change through knots, insect tracks, color changes. We therefore tried to reevaluate the concept of wood quality, that is, to enhance the traces of nature often discarded by the industry because they are perceived as defects. Over the last 20 years we have been obsessed with the aesthetic quality of wood, to the point of losing its recognizability. They want to go back to 'seeing' the forest, like in the time of Alvar Aalto.

It seems like a very simple selection intervention, but this greatly influences the quantity of wood used and could be a future direction for the entire industry in the sector."

Aesthetic research, critical narration and industrial application: here the systemic thought and modus operandi of Formafantasma emerges.

“We are interested not only in designing the object, but also in rethinking the entire production chain. It is a systemic model that also leads us to consider the impact of a temporary installation. Everything that makes up this Reading Room will be reused for school projects, exhibitions or re-placed on the market."

Km zero architecture and design

Different sections of the fair can be read as posters of local pride, both from a cultural and production chain point of view. An example of this is the exhibition The Museum of Masonite, where the duo Folkform celebrates the historical Swedish industrial heritage by reinterpreting in the form of furniture the last original panels of Masonite wooden conglomerate produced by the company of the same name factory in the north of the country, now closed.

The furniture collection by Verk, a brand of "furniture produced locally from Swedish materials", falls in the same thematic vein. Pure autarchic spirit aimed at the survival of ancient crafts and related local economies.

On a larger scale, worth mentioning is the Farming Architects exhibition curated by Jordens Arkitekter, a manifesto for future living< /strong> which shows the links between sustainable architecture and regenerative agriculture, as illustrated by some concretely utopian 'archi-agricultural' community projects outside Stockholm, "designed to bring the landscape into the buildings and not vice versa".

The pavilion at the center of the exhibition is a praise of the "cultivated" building material, "an architectural gesture to define the soul of a building, made up of only the raw construction material: wood and hemp fiber panels”. The latter, they assure, is the material of the future.

To remain on the subject of zero kilometer materials and sustainability, an interesting interior design project seen in the city is worth mentioning, a joint work between the construction giant Skanska and the young creative duo Contem.

The café of a new building in a former industrial area, in great building excitement, has been furnished with furniture made from the wood of deteriorated elm trees (a real massacre) cut down in the city of Stockholm. A beautiful story of resilience and intelligent recovery of a material of great aesthetic value destined to become pellets.

Make way for young people

Young creativity was explored this year by SFF in three directions: the more experimental dimension of independent makers and art-designers (Älvsjö Gård), the selection of emerging brands (New Ventures) and the consolidated Green House area dedicated to schools and novice designers.

Set up with the essentiality of an art gallery, Älvsjö Gård saw among the protagonists the furnishings, balanced between sculpture and architecture by Nick Ross, the vaguely bolidist forms of an armchair designed with aid of virtual reality by Alexander Lervik and Gustav Winsth, the light wooden orographies by Didi NG Wing Yin. The Hong Kong designer transplanted to Finland was awarded Rising Star at the second edition of the Scandinavian Design Awards. The ceremony, subdued compared to the grandeur of the debut at the Stockholm City Hall (Nobel prize docet), took place in the nineteenth-century Musikaliska music palace.

Among the most dynamic brands, present in the unpublished New Ventures section, several Italian names stood out, such as Very Simple Kitchen and Stamuli (their joint project Very Simple Bar for the Greenhouse was very enjoyable ) and NM3.

The new products

The international representation of exhibitors is decidedly reduced, the biggest innovations come, once again, from the Swedish industry. And they talk about sustainability, color, mastery of woodworking. With some Italian creative contributions, such as the pop intervention by Luca Nichetto for the historic brand Edsbyn or the chair by Marco Campardo for Hem, who remembers Mari's lesson.