This Swedish Duo is Giving a Second Life To Industrial Waste
Axel Landström and Victor Isaksson Pirtti founded their design practice Lab La Bla in 2018 but their connection sparked way before that. The pair first met, hilariously, as toddlers in their native town of Luleå on Sweden’s Lapland coast, a remote region known for its subarctic climate, dense spruce forests, and history of iron mining — all topics Landström and Isaksson Pirtti continue to draw on in their practice. Now based in Malmo, they describe their work as Lab La Bla as a ‘konceptfabriken,’ which translates roughly to ‘concept factory,’ an umbrella term for their research-driven approach that often explores the hidden consequences of industrial production in their native Sweden.
Their recent projects have tackled issues as far-ranging as mapping a body of iron ore moving beneath the earth’s surface — which resulted in their Prospective Seats collection, a series of chairs made from core samples once kept in a scientific archive — to rendering objects from industrial refuse, like their Anti-Lathe vase, made from the waste of iron ore mining, always with an eye towards sustainability and environmental impact. Similar projects, like their recent BBQ series, take a more tongue-in-cheek approach to the process of re-contextualizing industrial materials. The simply fashioned series of fiery-hued wooden chairs, tables, and shelves were coated with a proprietary concoction of mining waste and factory dust from Swedish copper mines, designed to “celebrate low-end industrial spruce like an expensive piece of meat.” ◆