Very often I am asked: “Is there a market for Scandinavian design in the Middle East?” My answer is a resounding “Yes.”
First of all, there is a new generation of well travelled, design-aware consumers who are not looking to re-create the home of their parents, but a space that reflects their lifestyle — relaxed, chic, luxe without being in your face.
Secondly, the evolution of the regional design scene means a greater, home-grown appreciation for the contemporary aesthetic. Combine that with global access and you have a demographic whose taste is influenced by international design, of which Scandinavian is one of the most distinct.
Last and most importantly, let’s focus on what is common to the Scandinavian design ethos and the Middle East — a devotion to natural materials, exceptional craftsmanship and constant re-invention. When you put all of this together, it is easy to see why these Scandinavian design brands need to view our region as a seriously lucrative market.
Farg & Blanche: Inspired by Family History
For Stockholm Design Week, designers Fredrik Farg and Emma Marga Blanche presented a collection of 12 objects, showcased at Blanche’s ancestral home that once contained a traditional Swedish crispbread bakery, the family business. The element of ‘rising’ that features heavily in baking bread finds resonance in the lighting and furniture pieces. Dimpled wafers that were invented by Blanche’s grandfather inspire a suspended light piece, while her childhood memories of bulbous dough, viewing the world through the house’s keyhole and evenings spent in candlelight are evident throughout the collection.
Everyone is a Designer with Kasthall
The 120-year old Swedish rug company showcased an updated version of its rug design tool that allows anyone to create bespoke pieces. To demonstrate the tool’s easy-to-use- functionality, they invited NYC based magazine Sight Unseen founders Jill Singer and Monica Khemserov to use the updated Rug Designer tool. The non-designers used the tool that can create hand-tufted or hand-woven rugs, in a choice of 116 colours and provide both colour-blocked or geometric patterns to ‘design’ two rugs, demonstrating effectively, that anyone can be a rug designer.
Addressing the Future Through Design
In the student’s section of the Stockholm Furniture Fair, pupils from the Gothenburg University’s Academy of Design and Crafts explored some of our times most critical subjects with each piece addressing a global or personal issue. Hanna Crondahl’s rotating light featuring mirrors and spheres questions the fleeting nature of our existence with a design inspired by a fictional solar system.
Architectural practice Snøhetta apply their commitment to circular economy with the new S-1500 chair. Discarded ﬁsh nets, ropes and pipes provided by the local ﬁsh farming companies in northern Norway were grounded into a granulate substance and then injected into a mould. The result is a seat that while originating from waste plastic, mimics the look of marble and boasts of one of the lowest carbon footprints in the market.
Swedish design studio ‘from us with love’ presented an origami inspired, bio-degradable acoustic panels collection developed in partnership with Baux. Using organically modified cellulose fibres from recycled streams of Swedish pine and spruce trees, Baux’s pioneering bio-pulp product is lightweight and water-repellent, but it is its nano-perforated surface — that allows sound waves to enter and get trapped in the honeycomb chambers on the backside — which makes it one of the most advanced acoustic panels in the business.
Humour is Essential
Leave it to the Italians to bring a sense of lightheartedness to the land of Scandinavian minimalism. Seletti, the Italian brand known for injecting pop influences into design presented a series of colourful, even kitsch design pieces that lend a sense of the unexpected to proceedings. Featuring a rainbow-esque LED light that connects two retro-looking candelabras, the Candle Twin lamp by designer Marcantonio Raimondi Malerba blends reality and fantasy that is typical of the designer’s work.