With its bleak beauty, the Nordic landscape seems to have provided the inspiration for fine craft processes and fostered an evolved understanding of form and function.

Offering a platform to its heritage woodwork and crafts industry, the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair goes back to 1951. The Stockholm Design Week, a more recent addition, began in 2002. Today, on an average, 700-plus companies, 80% of them from the Nordic region, gather for the two events, which are held simultaneously. Over 40,000 buyers and visitors arrive every February for this annual party for design lovers.

This year, the fair was held from 5-11 February in one expansive space, while the design week was spread out over the entire city, with more than 200 pop-ups and events in public spaces, showrooms and restaurants. For instance, The Light House installation found its spot in the middle of Kungsträdgården, a public park with a skating ring. Philips and Swedish design group Ames Studio combined light design and information media to create an immersive house of light. Next to it was an exhibit that celebrated the life and work of the Swedish film-maker Ingmar Bergman, who would have turned 100 this year. Students from the School of Engineering at Jönköping University interpreted Bergman’s works through seven designed objects, with film screenings every evening, and coffee being served in keeping with the Swedish tradition of fika, a coffee break.

Overwhelming and beautiful, the fair is a reflection of emerging trends as well as values that inform Scandinavian design—smaller sizes, clean, simple form, fewer but long-lasting things. And sustainably made. There is a clear focus on tactile materials like felt, acoustic damping design and upholstery, hand processes like sewing and stitching, and a muted colour palette.

Scandinavia is far from being loud, glamorous or glitzy. Nordic beauty is an acquired taste.

Lounge highlights a few brands that exhibit elements of quintessential Nordic design.

Button by front for swedese

Swedese, founded in 1945, is a classic example of Scandinavian Modern design. Over the years, it has collaborated with iconic designers, including Alvar Aalto, Bruno Mathsson and Arne Jacobsen. Designed in 1956 and still in production, the Lamino chair is one of their most well-known, historic pieces. Button, a new sofa, is crafted by Front, a young, experimental Swedish studio which looked into the archives of Swedese to create a curved, playful form.

Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta collaborated with Swedish lighting company ateljé Lyktan, and the playful Flik Flak lamp was born.
Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta collaborated with Swedish lighting company ateljé Lyktan, and the playful Flik Flak lamp was born.

Flik flak by snøhetta for ateljé lyktan

Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta collaborated with Swedish lighting company ateljé Lyktan, and the playful Flik Flak lamp was born. Two wooden pieces of birch veneer—Nordic blonde on the inside and black on the outside—are held together by a piano hinge. You can control light to a mere sliver or open up the two flaps to a full 180 degrees for dispersed, full light.

Finland has a tradition of blown glass, and Iittala is one of its oldest glass-makers, founded in 1881 in a village of the same name in southern Finland.
Finland has a tradition of blown glass, and Iittala is one of its oldest glass-makers, founded in 1881 in a village of the same name in southern Finland.

Aalto vase by iittala

Finland has a tradition of blown glass, and Iittala is one of its oldest glass-makers, founded in 1881 in a village of the same name in southern Finland. When iconic Finnish modernist Alvar Aalto first designed this vase in 1936, its simple “wave-inspired" shape was quite revolutionary at a time when an overly decorative aesthetic was favoured. The vases, still mouth-blown at Iittala’s factory, are classics that can be seen in Scandinavian homes.

There is a surprising presence of twig-, branch- and leaf-like forms in Scandinavian design.
There is a surprising presence of twig-, branch- and leaf-like forms in Scandinavian design.

Branchmark table by zanat

There is a surprising presence of twig-, branch- and leaf-like forms in Scandinavian design, and this table by Gert Wingårdh and Sara Helder for Bosnian company Zanat is a perfect example.

Design for public spaces and shared use was a significant theme at the fair.
Design for public spaces and shared use was a significant theme at the fair.

Dune by front for offect

Design for public spaces and shared use was a significant theme at the fair. Dune by Front, an emerging, popular Swedish studio led by Sofia Lagerkvist and Anna Lindgren, is made in collaboration with Swedish company Offect. It works as an oasis of interaction, an answer to the changing needs of our workplaces and public spaces. It can seat up to eight people, in organic ways, has four tabletops, and is equipped with USB-sockets.

Alba comes in a light grey on the outside, and a pop of peach in its upholstered seat.
Alba comes in a light grey on the outside, and a pop of peach in its upholstered seat.

Alba armchair by ton

If you love chairs and stools, then the fair is candy-land, and Ton leads the chair brigade. Alba comes in a light grey on the outside, and a pop of peach in its upholstered seat. In its construction, the leg structure extends to the backrest, which resembles the shape of a slightly curled leaf.

For a region that goes months without seeing sunshine, the collective creativity emerges magnificently in lighting design.
For a region that goes months without seeing sunshine, the collective creativity emerges magnificently in lighting design.

Spira table lamp by halo design

For a region that goes months without seeing sunshine, the collective creativity emerges magnificently in lighting design. Danish company Halo Design’s Spira lamps come in floor, pendant and table options and create a soft spiral of LED light.

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