edited by Alexa Yablonski -- Interior Design, 6/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
When the Swedish say, "Why not?" what they really mean is, "Let's break the rules." Eye-catching products at this year's Stockholm International Furniture Fair capitalized on a long heritage of Nordic functionalism while neatly turning expectations inside out.
Take birch. You simply can't escape it in Sweden, a land of birch forests, although some young designers have obviously had enough. At the fair, birch appeared laminated, whitewashed, contorted, and—in a few cases—painted beyond recognition. Still, 2003's bumper crop of excellent blond plywood stools and tables suggested an emerging compromise position. Recognizably Nordic in terms of material, they also managed to be sculpturally surprising and structurally advanced.
Working for the manufacturer Swedese, Yuriko Takahashi broke out of the box with the Twister stool. Designed to be deployed en masse, the small individual plywood blocks fit together as a softly undulating, surprisingly comfortable bench.
Swedese also produces Brasilia, a magazine table by ubiquitous Stockholm architects Eero Koivisto and Ola Rune. The table's highly engineered continuous loop of molded veneer layers is astonishingly executed, without visible joints, and curators at Sweden's Nationalmuseum have clearly taken notice: Brasilia has already entered the museum's permanent collection.
Koivisto and Rune's firm, Claesson Koivisto Rune, designs furniture for 30 international manufacturers. These include Japan's E+Y, maker of the firm's avant-garde new Dodo chair, a swiveling Japanese-style seat. "It may not be a huge success in the West," concedes Koivisto. "It's very strange to have a swivel chair so low, but I like it." Dodo looks right at home, in fact, in the foyer at the firm's office, and the piece might be even more ideal for a lounge in a college dormitory—possibly paired with Koivisto's DNA tables, which link in a color-coded chain reminiscent of a genetic code.
Chairs that combine wood and metal are a specialty in Sweden, and the fair offered many alternatives. Anna von Schewen Design & Architecture—a small firm that's been heaped with praise recently—presented last year's acclaimed Hug, a birch armchair on slim steel legs, and Big Hug, a larger stackable upholstered version. (Gärsnäs is the manufacturer.) Exchanging legs for skids, Iform's Pancras line of upholstered molded-plywood furniture was designed by Tore Borgersen and Espen Voll. Niels Jorgen Haugesen's comparatively low-tech trussed chairs for Tranekaer Furniture shrugged off any kitsch associations that still cling to string art.
The Seesaw Pakhuis sofa for manufacturer Erik Jørgensen manifested the widespread enthusiasm for experimentation. Add Kinnasand's gorgeous sheer fabrics, and this year's offerings make it abundantly clear that yesterday's mid-century nostalgia is finally being replaced by impatience with the conventions of the past.
Loud and proud of it
The 2003 Missoni Home collection doesn't shy away from blinding colors and gonzo patterns. But in Rosita Missoni's deft hands, the high energy isn't chaotic—it's just good summer fun. Choose from an assortment of designs that start with the letter e. They're equally inspired.
Not-so-subtle stripes decorate Ervin and Erny cotton-terry towels, Elisabeth wool throws and pillows, and Wyoming wool-felt rugs (the lone w). Textiles for table and bed also join the bandwagon. Estelle features broad multicolored stripes. Emy goes graphic in precise black-and-white stripes, while Elisa is a variation on the traditional zebra print.
Eva offers an attractive alternative to fine lines in the form of polka dots on an orange or yellow background. For real impact, however, we like Missoni's fantastic florals. Whether it's the naive scribbled patchwork of Erika or the oversize pop principle of yellow Ester, Missoni serves up some of the season's best buds. 212-719-2338. circle 313
Brink of greatness
Ever ambitious, Anne Paul Brinkman was only 15 when he set up his own curiosity shop in Groningen, the Netherlands. His success has only accelerated since then. After mastering the antiques business in Amsterdam, he switched gears to interiors: building and refurbishing private residences whose harmony encompasses antiques, art, and even landscape. And he often designed exquisite custom fabrics to complete his holistic vision.
Culling examples he's created over the years, Brinkman has now launched his debut fabric line in the U.S. Deliciously rich from construction to finish, many selections are jacquards, woven from such natural fibers as linen, silk, and mohair. The uniquely European colors owe their depth and clarity to an Irish weaving mill willing to construct special dye baths. Combinations of color are equally impressive, demonstrating flair and daring. Coral can pair boldly with bottle green; aqua audaciously accents mocha. As for the patterns, they're rather difficult to classify. Reminiscent of tribal markings or calligraphy, perhaps. But definitely large-scale, with verve and versatility to spare. Roger Arlington, 979 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022; 212-752-5288; rogerarlington.com. circle 314