A Deft Mix of Materials Earned This Swedish Studio Sight Unseen’s Best in Show Award at Greenhouse, the Exhibition for Emerging Design at Stockholm’s Furniture Fair

Adrian Bursell and Siri Svedborg were students at Konstfack back in 2018 when they made the tables that would become the initial studies for their Burn & Turn collection, which debuted at the Stockholm Furniture Fair earlier this month, and which earned them Sight Unseen’s Best in Show award at Greenhouse, the fair’s up-and-coming designer showcase. At the time, they were studying the Arts & Crafts movement in a degree program for Interior Architecture and Furniture Design, and they agreed to explore a table that might reflect the movement’s values — one that could be functional yet decorative, using a kind of stripped-down ornamentalism inspired by the Swedish folk tradition. The first tables they made, Svedborg admits, were “a little bit crazy — more experimental, with a lot of more detailing. Afterwards, we were like, okay, this was fun, but we wouldn’t want to do them the same way again.”

They got their chance to revisit the series, in which a turned-wood pedestal leg is sunk into the puckered mouth of a molten glass base, last year, after they both had graduated and were both the recipients of grants. They began sketching again, paying special attention this time to the connection points — in particular where the base gently folds in on itself in a silhouette that recalls Axel-Einar Hjorth’s Üto table for Nordiska Galleriet — and began working with a local production facility called Stockholm Glass. There, they brought in their friend, the artist Rasmus Nossbring, to help troubleshoot. “We were a bit naïve from the start, but we understand now that it’s quite complicated to make these very heavy, solid glass bases,” says Svedborg. On the other hand, using a mold would have distanced them from the more craft-based lineage they sought to inhabit: “It’s very difficult to be very precise with the shape, but the way we have been making them, every base is unique, which is nice,” says Bursell.

From there, the project expanded to include other forms of local production. In one table on view in Stockholm, an unadorned wood column plugged into a curved aluminum base forged at Westermalms metal casting; in another, the wood was dyed a terracotta red to match its ceramic base, built by hand at Stockholm’s Seemann ceramic workshop and crudely carved using a Japanese method called “kurunuki.” These, the duo says, were more tests than final products, but ones they hope to explore further now that the deadline of the fair isn’t looming. Perhaps they’ll try scaling up the pieces as well, but for now the dual function of a side table and a pedestal appeals to them — a descendant of the Arts & Crafts movement indeed, where the function of the table can simply be to display something beautiful.