For this year’s Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, designer Daniel Svahn has taken on something of a new role – as the originator and curator of his very own exhibition. After 10 years as a professional designer, Daniel has returned to the classroom and will soon have completed his Master’s in Interior Architecture and Furniture Design at Konstfack in Stockholm.
“For me, education is about breaking old habits and not just treading water but moving forward with new ideas. And that’s something I’ve really been able to do, not least with this project, which is to a large extent about upcycling, particularly of materials that the public sector considers trash. Where there is no system for dealing with furniture that is considered out of date, much of it is discarded to make way for new purchases.”
Is that why the exhibition is called “New Goodies but Oldies”?
“Exactly. There are companies that operate in the second-hand market for office furniture, but they have problem items that they can’t recondition well enough, including laminate – desktops with chipped edges. And it’s these that I’ve taken and used in this exhibition, a joint venture with Nacka Municipality where we’ve tried to come up with new, alternative systems that don’t necessarily stunt economic growth, but just introduce different conditions for the recycling and use of materials.”
Daniel says that he was bowled over by all the waste that was just being thrown away. In the exhibition, he shows how he has taken on the challenge of creating something new from sheets of tired laminate.
“I’ve borrowed 14 desktops from Nacka City Hall. The brief was to make three items of seating that could represent three flows during the working day. I wanted to make the designs as uncomplicated as possible, while still giving them some character. And I think I succeeded.”
What kind of feedback have you received?
“People generally like the idea of reuse and how we can find alternatives to the existing system. Many see this as a breath of fresh air.
“As a product designer, I have to be able to work more on recycled materials and focus more on the second-hand market, rather than just producing new things all the time.
“There’s a huge amount going on in this area at the moment, both within my generation and on the courses being taught. Greta Thunberg and the whole of her movement have really accelerated developments. Be smart in your thinking and make the right material choices.
“The biggest challenge for us lies in spreading knowledge and inspiring people to work with the second-hand market, and perhaps come in as a design consultant and design things on a project basis when offices are moving, so they take their own old furniture with them, refreshing it and continuing to use it.
“What we do about these problems is also a political issue. There are no direct services for this. So it might mean new professional positions for us as designers, although we have a great deal to do if we are to be a driver of change. It’s not just about materials, but about systems and perceptions. We need more creative people in many different capacities.
“I feel that here in Scandinavia, we’ve achieved quite a lot, but there is still a long way to go. There might be a lot of patting yourself on the back even for the smallest things, but in each case they are at least a step in the right direction. The intention and ambition are there.”
What is Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair’s place in all this and what does it mean to you personally?
“I love the fair. It’s a wonderful melting pot where you can get to meet people. Very exciting, with so much cool stuff to see.”