Stockholm Design Week – the sustainability report

I don’t know how many times I have said “sustainability is on everyone’s mind”. And so it is. Here is my report on sustainability from Stockholm Design Week and Stockholm Furniture Fair.

Where to start? Well I am pretty upset. Well actually really, really upset. For fuck’s sake. Get your shit together people.

I walked the fair and attended a lot of activities in the city. At the fair there were officially 700 exhibitors (yes, I checked). I don’t know exactly how many exhibitions etc there were in the city – but a lot.

Out of these hundreds and hundreds of launches, installations etc I made a calculation. How many were talking about sustainability? I mean, we have all agreed that this is the most important topic of our times.

I found somewhere around 25-35 projects communicating sustainability. Totally. WHAT THE F”CK? Out of 700-800 projects? And everyone think this is the most important question of our time.

I have now been posting things from the fair. And it is all nice and good – but nooooooooooooooooo communication on sustainability. Zero. This picture above with furniture, could be the most sustainable brand in the whole of Scandindinavia – but how can I value that when there is ZERO communication.

I talked to some of the most influential designers in Sweden about this, and they said “well sustainability is so selfevident, so it is difficult to talk about these things. You don’t have to write it on the wall”. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat??? Communications is vital. What is the fabric made of? Where is production done? What parts are recycled or recycable? What are the ideas on durability and longevity? Where is the wood from? Do they use toxics in the fabric to make it stain repellant? What about the colouring…?

And when noone talks about sustainability – these projects get attention. I mean, Kartell is an interesting brand in the way that they are now talking about recycled plastics. And that is all good. Really. I like that. But can we talk about dying?

Recycled plastics don’t automatically look like this. You need colouring. And colouring of recycled plastic is extremely toxic. These are things we need to talk about.

Or Finnish brand Woodio. I love Woodio. I really do. They push limits. They are innovative. They take wood scraps and make into bathtubs. But what about the resin that keeps it together so we can use it for 15 years?? Is that sustainable? The wood I understand – but the other materials or components?

I mean really. We need to talk about these things.  I mean, I don’t hate Kartell and I don’t hate Woodio, but when they claim that they are sustainable – where is everyone else? I give 100 points to both Kartell and Woodio for trying. I want them to try harder, communicate clearer, make better products – but today they are one of 35 projects that talk about sustainability. Where is the rest of the industry?

All designers and all design producers need to start talking about this. And it will be difficult, but we must start to communication around these things. If I walk at a fair with 700 exhibitors and I want to look at a sustainable chair – where do I go? Is Kartell the most sustainable chair?

I absolutely think that the furniture industry can learn a lot about communications from the textile industry. Look at my report from Heimtextil.

And we haven’t even started to talk about the sustainable perspective of doing fairs. Here is an article (in Swedish) where Ivana Kildsgaard is questioning what is happening to the exhibitions and stands after the fair.

There is soooooooooo much to do better. I want more. Put a logo on the wall if you are certified. Talk about your goal. Make it easier for me who pass by your stand to understand where you stand in this topic. Just showing an easy chair in a trendy colour isn’t good enough anymore.

Of course I know there were talks and seminars at the fair about sustainability – but nothing of that was visiable at the stands.


Phew… Needed to let of some steam… But there were some good sustainable projects at Stockholm Design Week and Stockholm Furniture Fair. Here are som of my favourites.

The chair by Alexander Lervik for Design House Stockholm. A classic example of a good product with zero communication. But we must leave that and continue to talk about the review. This chair is amazing. You look at the chair online and have a selection of 1000 manufacturers who can make this locally. Amazing. No transportation. Well done.

Flooring in general are good at communicating about sustainability. Tarktett, Interface Flooring and Bolon are some examples.

Also Ege Taepper

It doens’t have to be soooooooooo difficult. Do like Swedish Minus Tio. Talk about your goals. I makes me like you. At least you try. Here focus on local production.

Same thing with fairly new brand Fabrikant.

I saw very few certifications out at the fair. Very few. This year Johanson Design made the first Swedish Ecolabel chair. Well done. And a clear sign. Designed by Johan Lindsten.

Form & Miljö talk clearly about their sustainable perspective and even has some logos of certification.

A brand like Götessons talked about soundproof systems and sustainability.

70-80% of everything that was communicated at Kinnarps as about sustainability. An amazing example of how you can own the questions and not just be a bystander. I still love the easy chair I talked about in the last post. They brought a conference room chair from 1998 to show how good it still looks 22 years later.

Italian Arper talked about their story with sustainability and it all really looked amazing. No questions asked. Full score.

In the city I found the new products by Asplund interesting. They had found an old abandoned warehouse with veneer that they rescued and worked with. All about upcycling. But I would like a bit of more communication.

In the city there was an exhibition called Sustainable Stop. When I was there, nothing was open so I can comment on that, but in general the exhibitions in the city was absolutely NOT about sustainability but rather instagram-savvy pictures and installations.

In Greenhouse, where the young students exhibit, there were some interesting examples but we need to talk more about communications. If you to a sustainable chair – talk to me about how, why and what is new. Talk to me. More.

Fleen Design made chairs out of 3D printet wood.

Caspar Reuterswärd made furniture out of upcycled construction wood.


And of course there are Asian design students making products out of coffee grind, fast growing woods, weeds, etc, etc.

So Stockholm Design Week. Get your shit together. 25-35 exhibitors out of 700 talk about sustainability. I am not saying that there are 675 exhibitors who do sustainably bad products – but if you don’t communicate – how should I know? And if you dont start – Kartell will win – and do you want that?

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4 years ago

Love the yellow chair