As the little sister of the construction and real estate sector, with its considerable environmental footprint, it is particularly important for the furniture world to clean up after itself. Nordic companies have come further than most and Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair brings together many of the most progressive players.
“We’re facing an existential crisis. The biggest ever.” So said Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Stockholmer whose passion has made her a catalyst for the world’s growing environmental movement. The fact that she comes from Sweden is not entirely surprising – living in one of the last countries in Europe to urbanize, Swedes have always had a keen sense of environmental awareness. But it is only in recent years that terms such as ‘circular economy’ and ‘carbon footprint’ have begun to appear in companies’ annual reports.
“We prioritize the environment in everything we do, from the choice of materials to production technology and function,” say Mimi and Johan Lindau of Blå Station, the company founded by their father Börge Lindau in 1986. “We create furniture that will have a long life, delivering for both ‘the backside and the eye’. Of course it needs to last a long time, but it should also stand up in terms of looks.”
Alongside Blå Station, Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2020 features a large number of other innovators with a clear eco-profile. Baux, Bolon, Gemla, Green Furniture Concept, Kvadrat, Källemo, Lammhults, Nola, Offecct, Swedese, Vestre, Zero – all of them have achieved international success thanks in no small part to their consistent environmental focus. And just like Blå Station, many of them are family companies that have put ecological considerations front and center in their design work.
“Back in 1898, our father’s grandfather Karl promised to only ever produce ‘well-made furniture that is built to last’,” says Sara Wadskog, Marketing Manager at Karl Andersson & Söner. “He made everything in his factory outside Huskvarna using wood from the local area. And that’s how we still work today. Resource-efficient manufacturing involving as little waste and transport as possible.”
This concentration of environmentally conscious design companies makes Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair a unique meeting place, according to the fair’s Event Manager Cecilia Nyberg. “Together, these exhibitors constitute an enormous knowledge platform. Their collections are like a sample book of all the sustainability innovations from recent years. Seeing how they spur each other on, how they take environmental thinking further and further every year, is incredibly uplifting.”
In order to further highlight the environmental focus of the fair, several of the invited speakers will be addressing the issue. As an example, designer Emma Olbers, who received an award from Rum magazine for her environmental work, will be talking with Gregg Buchbinder, CEO of US firm Emeco, whose iconic Navy Chair in recycled aluminum is claimed to be ‘indestructible’.
Ulrika Kjellström Attar, Program Manager for Stockholm Design & Architecture Talks says: “There is no avoiding the issue of the environment. In part because of the concerning global situation, of course, but also because the furniture industry is a real trailblazer. What these designers do is copied by others.”
Photo from the movie "Respect" focusing on Swedish furniture manufacturers perspectives on sustainability. Premiering at the fair February 4.