Like all Scandinavian countries, Sweden will continue to work for the sustainable development of its territory, and in harmony with the nations which have signed the Paris Climate Accord. Design will be one of the drivers supporting positive change.
The Swedish government will continue to fund the programme which supports Swedish design and its global standing. Swedish Design Movement is the new programme which aims to promote knowledge of Swedish culture, including architecture, fashion, furnishings and other forms of design.
The programme is led by Visit Sweden in partnership with Architects Sweden, the Swedish Fashion Association, the Swedish Federation of Wood and Furniture Industry (TMF) and the Swedish Society for Crafts and Design, Svensk Form, as well as many cities and regions.
The programme of actions to be undertaken during the coming years, and the communication plan, will be published during the next Stockholm Design Week; the aim will be to increase international knowledge of Sweden as a design nation, persuade tourists to choose Sweden as a destination – also in order to discover its architecture and design – and to reinforce the export of sustainable products and services.
We discussed design values, and the directions in which the younger generations are working with a view to an increasingly low-impact, digital future, with Jenny Bergström, Project Manager, Design, Fashion & Architecture at the Swedish Institute, who will be working on the Swedish Design Movement programme, and Mats Widbom, Managing Director of Svensk Form.
What continue to be the core values of Scandinavian and Swedish design?
J.B. Sustainability, innovation and digitisation. Sustainability in the broad sense, which runs from the design process to the choice of materials, from production to logistics, through to new business models. Companies are aware that radical change is needed, and the pandemic has confirmed this. This year’s digital leap forward is a positive for many design brands, and is transforming business profoundly, also in the fashion industry.
There is a constant link to a simple, functional language of forms. What is really irreversible is the commitment to the environment, which is gaining more and more ground in companies’ goals and strategies. Whether we’re talking about fashion, crafts, architecture or design, young designers have a strong voice on these issues, and they are being listened to as never before. We’re also seeing an interesting and broader diversity of creative expression, often on the borderline between art and design: it’s no longer just a case of form and function. There are many fascinating new designers offering new languages. Names to watch out for include Emma Olbers, Monica Förster, Matti Klenell and Claesson Koiviston Rune.
How is young designers’ approach changing?
The new generation of designers place sustainability at the centre of what they do every day, not just with regard to environmental issues but also in terms of new social policies and forms of democracy. Many young designers are giving serious thought to matters of inclusion and diversity. As Mats Widbom said, many of them work in an artistic, interdisciplinary way and through collaborations, consolidating a more experimental and sometimes more playful approach to design. Young Swedish designers are very open to international contaminations and collaborations and many of them intend their work to speak straight to the global markets.
Swedish design and Italian design, a story that goes back a long way?
Swedish designers have always been inspired by their Italian counterparts, and vice-versa; perhaps more in the past than today. The amount of attention and influence a group like Memphis enjoyed in Scandinavia in the Eighties is emblematic of this dialogue.
Italian design is still a source of inspiration, with the textile sector and the great variety of quality of Italian output particularly important. Milan Design Week is still the biggest international platform for many Swedish design firms. It will be interesting to see how it will evolve after this revolutionary year; Swedish companies are ready to embrace any changes.
Which topics are destined to become more and more strategic for the design industry?
Design is fundamental when it comes up with intelligent, sustainable solutions to global challenges; it touches people’s lives profoundly, and has the power to lead them along new paths and to guide their choices. I believe the design industry will be crucial in supporting future changes in many sectors, and not only with regard to environmental issues.
Both environmental and social sustainability. Design will be the all-important link between new technologies and a growing aim of ensuring the wellbeing of all humankind. We are trusting in it to guide the revolutions now under way in the way we live, work and travel.