"The table, with its cushioned surface on which everything rests softly, is an image of future. It is supposed to create a feeling of lightness, meditation, curiosity, and have an expression of self-confidence. Squeezed in between past and future is now, symbolized in the lamp fixture that rests on the thin glass bulbs, either on the floor or against the wall. What is now is frail and vulnerable. The past must be accepted, although there is a measure of potential change in the future."

The Matter of Things, by Beckmans College of Design Students

Attend an event like the Stockholm Furniture Fair, which is packed with designs by fresh-faced students and recent graduates, and you’re bound to see furniture so conceptual it borders on fine art (if not naiveté or cliché). That’s because students at some of the best design schools around the world are taught not just how to make things, but also how to think creatively and develop narratives — Stockholm’s Beckmans College of Design among them. Thirteen members of its current graduating class exhibited together at the city’s furniture fair this week, and rather than developing a suite of beautifully variegated chairs like a neighboring booth from the Lund Institute of Technology, they did some serious and deliberate navel-gazing in an attempt to develop furniture capable of manipulating its own emotional connection with users. Called “The Matter of Things,” the project asked each of its participants to choose an abstract problem to solve — like bonding, treasuring memories, or making physical contact — and embody it in a not-quite-as-abstract form. Not all of the results are particularly life-changing, but they do demonstrate the kind of thought processes that eventually lead to greatness. We snagged photographs of the pieces taken prior to the show, and annotated them with excerpts from its catalog that describe those processes in more detail. Stay tuned for more coverage of the talents we uncovered in Stockholm.