Swedish designer Erik Olovsson

This Former Acne Art Director Makes Furniture With a Graphic Eye

When we first encountered Swedish designer Erik Olovsson two years ago in the basement of Rossana Orlandi, he had but two products to his name — a wavy-lined metal and marble clothes rack and a modular, geometric shelving unit, both created in collaboration with his fellow graduate and graphic designer Kyuhyung Cho. Since then, Olovsson has been developing and tinkering with the beautiful projects he's unveiling in Milan this week.
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Campaign for Oyyo shot in the Manvar Desert of Rajasthan.
Photo: David Magnusson / www.davidmagnusson.se

Oyyo, Swedish Textile Designers

Lina Zedig and Marcus Åhrén, of the Stockholm-based studio Oyyo, take a best-of-both-worlds approach to their work. If Zedig is the self-described perfectionist who obsesses over color and composition, Åhrén is the “action person, always keen to get new projects going and thinking that everything is possible.” For their first collection, which launched in 2013, they employed age-old techniques to craft flat-weave dhurries, but imbued the familiar form with unexpected geometric and architectural patterns. And while their carpets — in combinations of pastel pinks, yellows, and oranges, deep blues, greens, and black — have a cozy, at-home feel, they also reflect the restless, roving spirit in which Åhrén and Zedig, avid travelers, created them. It’s design for settling in, not settling down.
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A New Layer at Östasiatiska Museet

Turns out we're not the only ones who have noticed Scandinavia's re-emergence as a design powerhouse. In 2012, at the behest of the Taiwanese government, the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute invited five Swedish designers — Gabriella Gustafson and Mattias Ståhlbom of TAF, Matti Klenell, Stina Löfgren, and Carina Seth Andersson — to visit their country in order to work with craftsmen to explore the world of lacquer techniques. From Taiwan's point of view, the project was meant to boost interest in their native lacquer craft and to investigate the effects of combining lacquer work with Scandinavian design. But it was also a very savvy business decision: "Many producers in Taiwan are curious about the performance of IKEA, Muuto, and Hay ━ the entire Scandinavian success story," says Klenell. "A lot of questions have been asked about that kind of thing: 'How can we learn about design, how can we start up businesses?'" The impact of the collaboration on Taiwanese design culture is still to be seen, but the physical results will be on view starting next Tuesday and until February 8 at Stockholm's Östasiatiska Museet, or the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities.
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Jonas Wagell, furniture designer

Swedish designer and architect Jonas Wagell has products in production with Scandinavian companies like Normann Copenhagen, Muuto, Menu, and Mitab, but it was only a few weeks ago — when we featured one of Wagell's lighting prototype in our Saturday post — that we began to understand the vast reserves of cute designs coming out of Wagell's Stockholm studio. Wagell's pieces are brightly colored, exhibiting a certain playfulness he's become recognized for as a designer, and he calls what he does generous minimalism — creating "simplistic objects that are easy to understand and use, but try to add something personal and expressive." Given his background in communications (he worked in that industry before heading to design school at Konstfack in the early 2000s), he's able to understand the relationship between people and the everyday objects they use. He approaches design not from an artistic perspective, which can be isolating and potentially pretentious, but from one based in functionality. Wagell wants his objects to be affectionately used, not admired from a shelf, so he uses readily available materials and steers clear of elaborate or expensive processes. In addition to the designer's firm JWDA, he also founded an in-house label named Hello Industry in 2011, and was named one of Wallpaper's 50 hottest young architects in recognition of his work with prefabs. Keep reading to learn more about why you ought to be keeping an eye firmly on this Stockholm-based studio.
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David Taylor in Hälleförsnäs, Sweden

Every summer, the Stockholm-based, Scottish-born designer David Taylor retreats to his family's cottage in the Swedish countryside for a spell and spends his days foraging in the woods. It isn't greens and mushrooms he's after, though, but slag — the decidedly un-edible clumps of waste compounds left behind in the production of metal. Taylor's cottage happens to be in a town called Hälleförsnäs, also home to an iron foundry that was built in the 1600s and shut down for good in 2006. "Slag can still be found just about everywhere around here," Taylor says. "It’s a worthless by-product that was produced in huge quantities and mostly just dumped out of sight in the forest for centuries." For a recent project that debuted during the Saatchi Gallery's Collect fair in May, Taylor gathered up chunks of the stuff and upcycled them into a series of colorful candlesticks.
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Anny Wang 3D Illustrations

Anny Wang’s 3D Illustrations

Today we posted an interview with the up-and-coming Swedish designer Anny Wang, who we found when she posted her BA project to Instagram. But Akin, that slamdunk furniture collection, is only half the story: In school, when Wang was trying to teach herself how to digitally model in 3D, she had trouble with some of the more typical programs and found herself turning to a little-known software called Luxology Modo. “People use it primarily for animation, but I began to play with it and understood I could use it as a canvas to make pictures,” Wang says. We’re presenting the resulting 3D illustrations here today, which look like some sort of mash-up between the Tumblr visual culture of today and the Archizoom movement of the early 80s.
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Anny Wang, Furniture and Interior Designer

If you're a design student, and you're still on the fence about whether to join Instagram (do people like this exist?) here's proof positive that you need an account, stat: Instagram is where we recently stumbled upon Anny Wang, a Swedish-born designer whose BA graduation project (above) blew us away but who cemented her visual artist bona fides with one of the most beautiful feeds we've ever seen.
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Week of March 31, 2014

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. Today, we temporarily interrupt Seattle Week to bring yo far-reaching news from places like Sweden (clocks and tables made from rejected furniture), Milan (a preview of novelties launching at the upcoming Salone del Mobile, where we'll be reporting from next week), and the Internets (a rash of color-field abstraction on Instagram).
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At Stockholm Design Week 2014

When Katrin Greiling offered to report on Stockholm Design Week for us this year, it felt like the holy trinity of guest fair coverage: a designer with an amazing eye, who also happened to be a talented photographer, who wasn't too occupied exhibiting her own work this year to make the rounds on our behalf. Turns out she's been busy with other projects, 700 miles away from her former home base: "After living in Sweden for 15 years, I recently made a move to Berlin to work on two interior projects," Greiling says. "Still, though, my heart is strongly connected to the aesthetics of the North, and a year without going to the furniture fair in Stockholm would be unthinkable for me. Studio Greiling didn't show any work at the 2014 fair, but we still enjoyed meeting up with all the members of our huge Nordic furniture family. Here's a glimpse at what I saw during the four days I spent in Stockholm."
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Kent Fonn Skåre, Artist and Graphic Designer

Being that he's still a student at Konstfack in Stockholm, you've probably never heard of Norwegian artist and graphic designer Kent Fonn Skåre. But his work, even at first glance, is ridiculously easy to love: It's got a heavy focus on materials, lots of marble, and a whiff of Memphis — yes, the three "M"s, the golden trifecta of the current avant-garde, or at least the little corner of it that we're obsessed with, which also includes folks like Clemence Seilles and Jens Praet. We discovered Fonn Skåre via a fleeting image on Pinterest, but found surprisingly little information on him and the ideas behind his work, so we did what we do best, harassing the poor man until we were able to tease out a bit of insight into his practice. Check out the interview and accompanying photos here, then bookmark Fonn Skåre's Flickr feed to browse more of his graphic design work and follow his future projects.
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Misaki Kawai, Artist

Misaki Kawai's work is insane. In a good way. When Sweden's LOYAL gallery sent us these images from her new solo show, "Wet Shiny Surprise," we were taken with their use of geometry and pattern — not to mention their resemblance to Memphis design — but we had no idea the Japanese-born, New York–based artist also made paintings of weightlifting robots, surfing octopuses, and people pooping in the woods. What unites all of Kawai's art, from the beautiful to the bizarre, is her talent for blending childlike imagery with absurdist humor, a quality she suspects might have something to do with spending her childhood in Osaka, the center of Japan's comedy scene. But to the extent that her pieces seem like windows onto a strange and addictive parallel world, she gets most of her inspiration from navigating this one: After a post-graduate trip to Turkey, Nepal, and Thailand left her "greatly influenced by handmade dolls, textiles, and low-quality manufactured objects," Kawai began traveling regularly, collecting both physical and experiential scraps and incorporating them into her paintings and sculptures. When we interviewed her for this story, she had just finished opening the show at LOYAL and had moved on to Beijing and Mongolia, where she was riding camels and investigating the local dress. What she'll do with that fodder, we can only imagine.
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