BEST OF 2022:
A year in Nordic design
Rounding up 2022 – a year marked by uncertainty – The New Era has selected objects, brands, exhibitions and initiatives that cheered up the editorial year – and us. It includes a Swedish icon, a Norwegian pop up gallery and a Danish brand investing in culture.
The New Era team
Gallery of the year
The experimental exhibition platform Pyton was founded in 2019 as a response to the lack of commercial galleries supporting the growing interest in collectible design, craft and art from the contemporary Norwegian scene. They invite up-and-coming designers, craft makers and artists to exhibit in various ways in Oslo and beyond and have in no time at all managed to spread the word about a young and very exciting collectible design scene in Norway. In 2023 they have some interesting things coming up including a presence at Älvsjö gård, Stockholm Furniture Fair.
Icon of the year
Åke Axelsson, Sweden
Åke Axelsson is one of Sweden's most prolific interior architects and furniture designers with resourcefulness and sustainable thinking at the core of everything he does. Still active in his carpentry workshop every week, Axelsson celebrated his 90th birthday in the 2022 exhibition Talking to Åke, where a selection of Axelsson's most iconic furniture was shown together with new and rarely seen works, and a number of invited designers from a younger generation created new pieces in dialogue with a younger generation of designers. Thank you for inspiring us.
Accessory of the year
Museum candle holder by TAF Architects for String Furniture, Sweden
In a market flooded with accessories for the home, the adjustable candle holder Museum by TAF Architects for String Furniture is a true keeper; it is humble and flexible, has charm and character and is launched as an extension of an already existing family of furniture, offering context and a chance for longevity. The first pieces in the Museum series was originally designed for the National museum in Stockholm. Special mention to Hem and Massproductions both launching accessory collections with strong identities 2023.
Designer of the year
Andreas Engesvik, Norway
The Oslo National Museum opened in June 2022, less than a year after the newly relocated Munchmuseet. Though very different in ambition and character, both have furniture specially designed for their spaces by Norweigan designer Andreas Engesvik. We love the The Munch series by Engesvik, produced by Vestre, and the elegant Portrait chair at the National Museum by Engesvik for Herman Miller.
Look of the year
Are we seeing a new Scandinavian vocabulary? With brands such as Nico June, Made by Choice, Hem and Massproductions we are seeing a more bold alternative to the mid century modern ethos that have dominated the Scandinavian design scene the last decade. The relative newcomer Vaarnii add to the new chapter of Scandinavian design with a brutalist aesthetic, a strong identity and freshness of tone. We are excited to see what’s next.
Interior of the year
Sana Labs, Sweden
One of the most talked about office interiors 2022 is the calming post pandemic office of Sana Labs – the Swedish leader in offering AI for learning – by Halleroed in Stockholm. The interior focus is on low tech rather than high tech and offer a peaceful place to get together – sense of being in a “second home” – rather than an office. There is a living room, an open plan kitchen for cooking together, some great art works as well as unique pieces of furniture, and on the ground floor there is a Japanese tea room, complete with low ceilings, low chairs and a table. With their elegant touch Halleroed have managed to create an office you really want to go to.
Anniversary of the year
Hay turning 20 made us all ponder the impact they have had on the contemporary Nordic design scene; not just in promoting talent and objects – and revitalising the Scandinavian design scene – but also in shaping the visual and material culture on an international scale during the last two decades. The newly launched book about Hay reminded us about some epic Hay highlights – and the great couple behind the brand. Cheers to you, Mette and Rolf.
Architecture of the year
The Plus by BIG, Norway
With the factory The Plus, the Norwegian furniture producer Vestre is leading the way towards a greener shift. Vestre is a family-owned Norwegian outdoor furniture producer creating long-lasting designs with a “lifetime guarantee”. Their aim with The Plus was to build the world's most environmentally friendly furniture factory – and at the same time prove that it is possible to achieve profitable and environmentally friendly manufacturing in a high-cost country. This year we saw the industry travel to Norway for guidance and inspiration.
Brand of the year
Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat is one of a kind when it comes to investing in quality textiles. This year saw them collaborating on a new shaker inspired accessory collection with Raf Simons and open the new sculptural pavilion The Triple Folly by artist Thomas Demand and Caruso St. John Architects at their headquarters in Ebeltoft. The pavilion blurs the boundaries between architecture and art and clearly showcases the long term commitment Kvadrat has in culture. We are happy to have you.
Exhibition of the year
German high end lighting company Occhio is opening its first store in Stockholm, Sweden, catering for picky consumers, interiors architects and lighting designers alike. The store offers a great way to understand and learn more about the possibilities of good light and the effects it has on a room. Founded in 1999 by Axel Meise, the Occhio store in Sweden is run by Aloud, leading Nordic specialist on intelligent homes.
Knock-out of the year
Tagada, Emanuele Stamuli, Sweden
The first furniture collection of Italian/Swedish Stamuli architects – behind interiors for international brands such as Ganni, Alexander Wang and Acne – is a real knock-out. With clean lines, sharp edges and solid block-colours the Tagada series mixes Memphis vibes with brutalist design. The growing series Tagada lights up any room and it’s playfulness is balanced by a “made by hand in Italy”-quality.
Voice of the year
Fredrik Paulsen, Sweden
The interdisciplinary Swedish designer and maker Fredrik Paulsen moves freely between a gallery context, industrial production and designing interiors for places such as Omnipollo without ever losing the distinctive identity. His brutalist pine furniture for Finnish brand Vaarnii is a true gem. This is also true for his new brand Joy objects, where he designs and produces small-scale, made in Sweden furniture at reasonable prices. The colourful chairs will be followed by more pieces in time – everything comes flat-packed, and is as well thought through as the images and branding. Fredrik Paulsen is on a mission.
Furniture of the year
Hunk by Kwangho Lee for Hem, Sweden
The lounge chair Hunk is Korean designer Kwangho Lee's first piece outside the collectible design circuit and marks the first time his work is translated for large-scale production for a wider audience. The chair is an evolution of Lee's experimental and knitted Obsession’ pieces which he started in 2008, and with its angular and bulky block shape it carries a resemblance from the original piece. Now in production by Swedish producer Hem, Hunk humbly indicates things we will see more of 2023 – Korean design and a wider interest for unique or limited edition pieces.