7 trends spotted at Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair

Bent wood abstract chair

Just days after arriving in Älmhult, it was time to hit the road again for the Furniture & Light Fair at Stockholm Design Week. The Swedish capital is a five-hour train ride north, winding through pine forests, cheery villages and rolling, snowy fields. Arriving at Stockholmsmässen, the scenery got a whole lot more energetic as acres of exhibits from some of Western Europe’s top industrial designers unfolded before us.

There’s a gallery at the bottom of this post with photos of fifty of my favorite pieces from the show. There were a few design choices that were very popular, and while some of these trends were predictable (mid-century modern? In Sweden?), others were interesting surprises. Here are some of both:

1. Blonde wood: It being a Scandinavian show, this trend was a given. Most of the wooden pieces on display were pale and graceful, and there was an even split between modern minimalist and simple rustic styles.

Bent wood loungerLovely loveseat

2. Textile upholstery: Leather furniture was scarce; in fact, out of the hundreds of booths, I can only remember a handful of leather pieces. Upholstery was king, and popular colours included heather gray, mustard yellow, and burnt orange.

Easychairs clean linesPuffy chair

I loved this chair, though don’t ask me what’s on the wall behind it. I don’t remember anyone tripping with a supersized Coke in their hands, so I’m guessing it’s an unfortunate effect of the unvarnished wood.

3. Warm-toned metal lighting pieces: One of the big surprises of the show was the huge number of brassy, coppery chandeliers and pendant lamps. While some designers went for fine detail and delicate shapes, most opted for massive, chunky pieces that seemed destined to hang from exposed beam ceilings.

Shiny pendantsBrass pendants

4. Northern African-inspired colours in lighting: Building on the popularity of Moroccan lamps from a few years ago, several designers incorporated materials that evoked the shades, if not the shapes, of North African textiles.

Morrocanish chandeliersThread wrapped chandeliers

5. Puffy white chandeliers: Another long-standing European lighting trend, and still going strong. I have a real fondness for this style of fixture though I wonder if, and when, this trend will wear itself out.

Hot air balloonish chandeliersCloud chandeliers

6. Geometric pendant lamps: Many of my favorite lighting pieces at the show fell into this category. Structured, simple and lovely.

Rhomboid pendantsCloud lamps

7. Leafy lights: These pieces had the effect of bringing a sunny park into the interior space without drifting too far into whimsical territory.

Featherleaf pendantsFeatherleaf

There will hopefully be more to share as we hit some other big shows in Western Europe this spring. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with the full image gallery and this terrific head-scratcher:

Where goes the white?

And here’s the gallery:

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And we’re off!

IKEA cake

One of my favorite song lyrics is John Lennon’s “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans“, a concept which comes in handy when I find myself dwelling excessively on possible alternative futures. Of all the things I imagined doing this winter, moving to a small town in Sweden wasn’t even on the radar. With Scott in the final year of his Industrial Design degree and me busy with work and music, there were no clues that a major change was looming.

So when we got the call in November that Scott had been selected for a design internship with IKEA of Sweden, we were stunned to see our vision of the future transform in an instant. There wasn’t much time to get used to the idea; eight weeks of packing, sixty-four boxes and a garage-sized storage locker later, we’re on our way to Älmhult, Sweden.

Moving away from the home city is an emotional experience, which we learned six years ago when we left Calgary for Vancouver. The most difficult thing, then as now, is the prospect of being far away from dear friends. No matter what exciting adventures lie ahead, it’s hard to leave behind the quiet joy of tea on rainy afternoons, laughter over wine, leisurely walks by the ocean and sun-soaked weekends in the Okanogan.

It’s a touching paradox that the same friends who make leaving Vancouver so hard also came together to make the departure easier. Whether by dropping in to help with the packing, carting giant boxes around in the rain, hosting a lavish going away party, or putting us up in the last days of the move, our friends have been instrumental in giving this venture its start.

And so it’s for friends and family everywhere that I decided to blog about this next five months in Sweden. I want to share with all of you the beauty, flavors and idiosyncrasies of the new places and cultures to be discovered. There will no doubt be lots to tell about life in a small town in Småland and about travels in Sweden and farther afield. In this way, I keep all of you with me wherever I go, so whether I’m wandering the wind-swept shores of Gotland or staring down a plate of rotten herring, I’ll take comfort in knowing that we’re in this together.

Vi ses snart! (See you soon…)