ARKET collaborates with KG Nilson in colorful capsule collection

The collection, called “The Colours of KG Nilson”, interprets seven of the painter’s original artworks and takes form in menswear and womenswear, but also as lambswool blankets and children pieces.

Since the 1960s, KG Nilson’s art has been centered around the meaning of colors and how they relate to each other, influenced by the Bauhaus and concrete art movement. His distinctive style has made his work easy to pinpoint in the world of art, now also taking place in the world of fashion.

— It has always been important to me to make art available to as many people as possible, whether through public art or by crossing over to the worlds of craft and everyday design. I think it’s amazing to see my own images materialized in an entirely new context and form, such as the textiles and prints that ARKET has made, says KG Nilson in a press release. 


Swedish health app Lifesum teams up with Amazon for new project

For the health and fitness person, the Lifesum app probably rings a bell. Whether users want to lose weight or cut back on drinking caffeine, the app uses technology, psychology, and professional dietitians to identify the individual user’s personal goals. More than 45 million consumers use the app, and it consistently ranks in the Top-10 in the Health & Fitness category on the App Store. 

Tech giant Amazon hardly needs an introduction, but their brand new project might. Amazon Halo is looking to offer nutritional services to its users, and they’ve turned to Lifesum to get started. Thanks to Lifesum lab reports, Amazon Halo will offer various challenges to its users. The nutritional challenges are centered around health goals such as eating more plant-based foods and trading ultra-processed foods for a cleaner diet. A wrist band helps users to see how their nutrition may impact their mind, body, and overall well-being.

— Nutrition is not one size fits all. Instead, it’s extremely personal – you have to figure out what works for you. Together, Lifesum and Amazon Halo will help users explore and find the best health and nutritional approach for them, says Lifesum CEO Henrik Torstensson.


Historical meets contemporary at Nybrogatan 17

Nybrogatan, one of Stockholm’s most prominent streets, has just been supplemented with a new office building on Nybrogatan 17. The new spaces, owned by property owners Humlegården, host 6000 square meters of commercial space as well as 18 new apartments, and the modern brick-laden facade contrasts the ancient neighboring buildings to create a Scandinavian mixture of old and new.

Danish architecture firm 3XN was hired to create the office building, which has a twisting and turning glass facade that faces the courtyard. The modern offices are built right next to the ancient Astoria building, a former cinema that dates back to 1874. The old theater spaces are now refurbished to host Brasseri Astoria, a new restaurant led by chef Björn Frantzén most famous for his Michelin three-star restaurant Frantzén.

— We are creating office spaces with the best conditions. It has never been more important to have a dynamic context. Nybrogatan and its surrounding blocks are some of Stockholm’s most intriguing places, stores and restaurants, says Peter Lind, property manager at Humlegården.


”To be really innovative you must encourage the pursuit of imperfection”

Here are some reflections on impermanence and imperfection in business. Because, the way I see it, not being perfect, will be one of the key assets humans can bring to work-life.

A machine, or computer, operate according to very specific given tasks and commands, leaving no room for error or imperfection, unless the system is broken. When humans operate, there are a lot of different factors influencing the outcome; be it emotional state, physical wellbeing, mental capacity, social influences, expected financial results or to put it simply — just having a bad day.

We all know how unsettling it is to not being able to solve a task just because things did not feel right. However — more often than not — true radical creativity comes from the unplanned interconnection of various events, emotions, insights, discussions, reflections, and try-outs. That is the beauty of the human brain — it is just completely random and unpredictable sometimes, just like anything else that is part of nature.

Both machines and humans wear down and break after a while. Machines can, in theory, last forever if we have the right replacement parts, and humans last somewhere around 80+ years. In some ways, the notion of death actually pushes us to be even more creative since we have a final stop one day whether we want it or not. (And as someone said about living forever — it would be very dull at the end.)

As business leaders increasingly are pressured by shareholder expectations and competition, they look for finding ways of optimizing operations. In many ways, businesses are still run as they were in the 19th century at the height of the industrial revolution, with some business leaders viewing the workforce as some kind of human machine.

So what is perfection? The notion of perfection has existed for millennia and more, but it wasn’t until Newton and the aforementioned industrial revolution its modern incarnation was born. There is a clear difference between a product coming out of the factory and something constructed in our heads. In the digital domain, we can see that innovations and services are developed somewhere in-between on this scale. Digital solutions are usually relatively free-floating, ever-changing entities.

The agile approach that has been so popular in the last couple of years, developing something in endless iterations, testing, learning, and striving for stripping away the bugs as much as possible, works well in the software industry or in developing services. This way-of-working is very much aligned to never accepting the status quo, constantly pushing for new solutions, and learn along the way. Lean and other management systems from the East has contributed to spreading this way of viewing the world.

I’m a big fan of the Japanese philosophy on impermanence — Wabi-Sabi. It’s a world view centered on the acceptance of transcience and imperfection. The concepts derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence; impermanence, suffering, and emptiness, or absence of self-nature. Wabi-Sabi is about asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and just the love of the natural and organic.

”The process and learning along the way is more important than the end product.”

So as managers, business leaders, innovators, and creative workers — what can we learn from this? Primarily that in order to be really innovative you must encourage the pursuit of imperfection. The process and learning along the way is more important than the end product. Especially in the age of data-driven business, where all corporations gradually turn into as-a-service software-based companies, we also need to remember how to accept what we cannot control (counter-intuitive in the age of industrialized perfection-seeking).

And coming back to the initial line of thought, what is truly an important asset to us humans? Well, being human! The only way to beat the machines is by becoming more human. Excel in creative thinking, asymmetrical problem solving, aiming for non-perfect solutions, trying and testing just for the sake of the learning process, admitting that failure is ok — just get up and do it again.

The employers of the future will have endless automation opportunities, especially for the mundane tasks that machines can do faster, better and smarter. But they will also need an empathatic and humane workforce that understands that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect. Truly understanding this notion, paradoxically drives humanity towards perfection, constantly searching for improvements and problem solving. Although, as someone smart said — fall in love with the problem, not the solution. But that is another topic for another day.


Innovator presents a brand new way of infusing tea

von Schoultz describes how he’s always been interested in problem-solving, starting his first — clay-car — design company at the age of 9.

— When I was 13, I did my first attempt to create a commercial product. After completing a bachelor’s degree at Boulder University in Colorado I put aside my education and got myself a set of machinery. I became a self-taught innovator.

His design and innovation company Drosselmeyer was established in 2001. The first product was the Nutcracker, hence the brand name taken from the opera character.

— I was confounded by how difficult it was to use a traditional nutcracker and the incredible amount of power that was needed. After months in the tool shop, the Nutcracker was created and reached the market.

Since then, it’s been a three-fold winner of Smartson’s Best in Test award and with a market stretching over 19 countries. It’s also part of the Swedish National Museum’s fixed exhibition of Swedish design.

”Over time I have developed an ingenious design process based on the assumption that a simple solution, requiring the least amount of parts, is always the best.”

— Over time I have developed an ingenious design process based on the assumption that a simple solution, requiring the least amount of parts, is always the best.

This led to what he calls Magical Three Philosophy. 

— A solution is attempted using only one part, then another and finally a third is added. At three parts the magic happens with an exponential rise in simple complexity! If an energetic spring action can be included, the deal is done, says von Schoultz. He continues:

— Making things by hand and exploring the relationship between body and tool is essential to my design process. This is an intricate and painstaking process, but it creates unique products with extraordinary functionality vastly different from others on the market.  Most of my ideas never come to market, but the ones that do have all been through our rigorous design and testing procedures. That might explain why our product portfolio is so compact. The design process allows me to stay true to my belief that if I can’t make it better I won’t make it at all.

And now tea. It’s being called the most consumed beverage in the world after water with no sign of slowing down, as 87% of American Millennials say that they regularly drink tea.

— Yes. Statistically speaking, if you’re not drinking water, you’re probably drinking tea — so making it shouldn’t be a chore. The challenge was to invent a tea infuser that was just as easy to clean as it is to fill. My infuser also needed to work with all different kinds of tea, even the ones with fine leaves that usually slip through the gaps. It’s simple to use — just slide the lid back with the thumb, scope the tea and then slid the lid back and put it into a cup of hot water. After you have used it to make a cup of tea, the infuser can be placed on the table without making a mess.

And even before it hits the market, in September, the feedback has been great.

— Our retailers and some stores and influencers have tried the product — they find the design beautiful and the functionality superior.

Next out is an even more powerful Nutcracker.

— It can easily crack even Macadamian nuts — nuts with an almost impossible shell to crack, says von Schoultz.


Norse Projects’ take on Barbour’s iconic jackets drops today

The collaboration features outerwear inspired by the mentioned archive, heavyweight knitwear, soft cotton jerseys, footwear, and accessories. It’s a functional range, good for all seasons.

Named after the waters between the two brand’s homes — South Shields, UK, and Copenhagen, Denmark — Norse Projects made their own version of the 1960s Game Fair Jacket. The North Sea Parka comes with a longer length and lightweight finish and includes the classic Barbour corduroy on the trims and inner collar.

The Ursula Wax is a clear nod to Barbour’s maritime history and pays homage to their Ursula Suit, developed in 1939 by British submarine officer Captain George Phillips. 


TheKrane is Copenhagen’s ultimate social distancing getaway retreat

In Nordhavn, one of Copenhagen’s last remaining industrial harbor sites, an old coal crane has been refurbished into a luxury one-room two-person hotel. If you’re keen on an elegant Nordic minimalist hotel experience free from breakfast buffé queues, look no further.

Originally built in 1944, the former industrial crane was meant for loading and unloading raw materials to and from cargo ships that entered Nordhavn (the North Harbour) before its transformation. When owner Klaus Kastbjerg and architect Mads Møller started working on the idea of the hotel, they realized that they had to take advantage of every inch of the old crane.

— The hotel room is located on the top of The Krane in what used to be the old engine room with cogwheels, metal wires, iron, steel and brawn. The old wheelhouse (where the guy operating the crane would sit) hangs directly above the water at 15 metres. The wheelhouse is now an astonishing lounge and lookout with a cosy daybed and floor to ceiling window facing Svanemøllen, the marina and Tuborg Harbour on the opposite side of the water, says head of communications Nicki Lykke.

The hotel also packs a spa located in an old shipping container eight meters above the ground, but thanks to its size it’s only accessible by the hotel guests. The idea of a one-room, two person hotel is perhaps more suitable than ever. Denmark has not established the most stringent of Corona related restrictions, and their borders are starting to open up to many countries. 

— We’ve of course felt a decline in bookings like everyone else. However, in these times of isolation more Danish guests have shown an interest in the staycation concept and self-pampering – and what better place to do it than here? Nicki Lykke wonders. 


On trend without the expense

Emelie Maistedt came up with the idea of Gemme Collective as a poor fashion business student at Marangoni in London. She wanted to stroll the Shoreditch streets clad in a pair of Balenciaga sneakers just like the locals did, but there was no way she could afford it. What if there was a way to borrow her neighbor’s leather Marlene Birger trench coat, or her classmates’ Chanel bag? 

— We want to make it easy and fun to consume fashion in a sustainable way. Gemme is like one big digital shared closet where you can rent a designer bag, a vintage blazer, or the newest trend in sneakers from one to fourteen days, wherever you are from your favorite closet.  

How do you pronounce it, to start with.

— It really depends on what you are associating it with, you can choose! It’s either ‘’gemmy’’ which sounds like “give me” or “gimme”. You can also use “jemmy”, which refers to the word “gem”, because our users can find a lot of gems on Gemme.

You came up with the idea of Gemme as a poor student. What people do you think will use Gemme?

— The core user would be an inner-city girl, between 22 and 30 years old, that wants to wear all the latest trends but doesn’t want to commit fully. Of course, she has the knowledge that fashion isn’t something that she wants to promote because the industry is so bad in itself. 

And for what occasions? Do you think Gemme will see an upswing on New Years Eve when people want to exchange dresses?

—  Absolutely. What we think, and what we’ve experienced, is that people mostly borrow clothes and accessories for birthday parties, new years eve or weddings et cetera. At the same time, we can see that other major companies like Rent the Runway are noticing a shift between starting to rent clothes for a specific occasion, to actually renting clothes for everyday usage. 

I guess some people might rent a piece of clothing just for an Instagram post.

— Yes, of course. There are already services that let you buy digital clothing. You’re never going to wear it or touch it, it doesn’t even exist in real life! And if that is the future that we’re heading for, and if you just want a nice outfit for a picture this is the perfect service. I don’t think a lot of influencers actually want to buy some pieces, they just need it for a picture.

”You’re never going to wear it or touch it, it doesn’t even exist in real life!”

So Gemme is basically like that older sibling that you borrowed clothes from before a school disco, but a bit more sophisticated?

—  Haha yes, we have been talking about this quite a lot. Not only the sibling comparison, girlfriends that go on trips or get ready for a night out usually lay all their clothes on a bed, and then everyone can pick and choose. But instead of only borrowing from your friends and family, we want everyone to be able to rent clothes from the cool girl on the block too. Gemme is like your expanded circle of friends!

Most girls between 22 and 30 are already used to borrowing clothes, I guess.

— Yeah, exactly! When we talk to men in their forties or fifties, they can’t wrap their heads around our business model for the life of them. ”That’s not going to work, I would never borrow a piece of clothing from my friend’’. And that’s fine, they’re not the core customer. 

Gemme is another great fashion initiative towards sustainable consumerism. Do you think fashion heads value trends more than sustainability, in general?

—  I think that you would never consider sustainability over the actual product. The most sustainable piece of clothing is the ones that have already been manufactured before, so if everyone wore used clothes, trends wouldn’t exist. People will continue to spend money on new products. If you don’t need a car, you’re not going to buy a Tesla just because it’s sustainable. 

Emelie underlines that Gemme is a great way of being on trend and sustainable. But Gemme can fill the needs for a big variety of people, and not just the 22-30-year-old inner-city girl that wants to be trendy and sustainable. One Gemme consumer might get a kick out of the tech part of it. Getting a hold of trendy clothes through a social app and not a physical or digital store is a fun way to experiment with fashion. But the most frequent user will be the one that’s in it for the money – you could save and earn money through Gemme.

You have earlier said that you want Gemme to be the Airbnb of fashion. Is it solely a consumer-to-consumer service, or will Gemme be a platform for the sought after brands to rent their pieces as well?

—  We started by being solely consumer-to-consumer because there is no way to make money off your clothes if you’re not willing to sell them. But people always want to make money. Gemme allows you to make money on your favorite clothes without selling them, you can eat the cake and have it too. I mean, no one is renting out their apartment on Airbnb just because it’s fun, they’re in for the money. With that said, it’s not only going to be a peer-to-peer platform. We are aiming to attract brands, retailers, and e-commerce. Because they have pieces that they’re not selling. So we want to gather the consumers and the companies. And the product can also be used by stylists or brands that need to borrow some accessories or pieces for a shoot, it’s not only for the consumers. 

You are starting with Stockholm as your test market. What are your plans for the international market?

— Stockholm is a great city to test in, not only because we’re based here, but also because Swedes are very sustainability forward, tech-forward, and fashion-forward. But with that said, Stockholm is not our target market. We want to exist in every trendy city in Europe, and that it is kind of a glocal assortment. If you’re in Paris, you will be able to rent from stores and people that live there. It’s like Foodora or Uber Eats, you wouldn’t order food from a Copenhagen restaurant if you’re in Stockholm.

She elaborates. 

— And within a year we’re hoping to get started in a new city. Right now we’re leaning towards Copenhagen or Paris. But still, it’s challenging to start a new service where we can’t really copy anyone… We can’t really look for inspiration anywhere. We have to listen to the consumers and understand how they would use a fashion renting service. Would they rent something for a day, or do they prefer for two weeks? We have to be vigilant. •


Cheap Monday founders’ new brand is based on luxury deadstock fabrics

The Swedish-Italian brand was founded three years ago by fashion veterans Adam and Linda Friberg. With a long retail background, which includes founding Cheap Monday, Monki, and Weekday, they wanted to bring something new and fresh to the market.

— So, we only use left-over fabrics, such as deadstock and fabrics that has been over-produced by the luxury industry, from and around Florence, Italy (where Adam and Linda currently reside, Ed’s note), tells Emma Fällman, Head of Communication.

How does the design process work?

— We start with what fabrics we can find, which is then turned into a limited capsule collection released every month. We only produce what we know will sell so that we don’t build up stock.

We use to joke about saying that the entire brand, with stock, people, and interiors, can be fitted in a small truck.

This week, Stockholm Fashion Week returns in a digital version after a few seasons of absence, with a brand list including the likes of House of Dagmar, Rodebjer, Stand Studio, CMMN SWDN, Arket, and LAZOSCHMIDL. AVAVAV is also debuting, premiering a brand film followed by a Q&A.

— We thought it was about time we entered the fashion week stage, showing our current collection — see now buy now, says Fällman.

What do you think about the post-pandemic future for fashion weeks? Will they become (even) more digital, or will things go back to normal?

— I don’t think anything will go back to normal. However, I am a fan of the human meeting and what happens when we come together, so I hope that it won’t continue being strictly digital. But I also believe that it needs to be more see now buy now. As a fashion consumer, I hate seeing things I would like to wear now, knowing it will be released next year. And, I don’t think it’s just me having this feeling… •


Renowned designer Valdis Steinarsdottír wants her art to raise eyebrows, and awareness

The Iceland native creates designs that state her position on climate change, and her independent art (and its values) have not gone unnoticed — she recently won the 2020 Formex Nova design award, which saw her beat some of the Nordics best designers. 

—  I’m mainly focusing on material experiments by recycling organic matter. With my projects I hope to bring societal change and open up a platform for discussion and debate, she says. 

Tell us about your aesthetics and inspiration.

— I am more driven and inspired by process rather than aesthetics. Knowing the story behind an object can utterly change your conception of it. Designers are important social critics. In our work, we often take on the role of a narrator and try to present things in an easy-to-digest way. Personally, I find design to be most exciting and inspiring when designers have something to say with their projects.

When it comes to Steinardottír’s designs, it’s hard to misconceive their message. For example, two of her recent projects called Bioplastic Skin and Just Bones use leftover animal parts to create new materials. The former is a biodegradable packaging for meat made out of the skin of the animal itself, while the latter is a material made out of ground up animal bones that resembles MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) wood. And also the Horsehair Project, that utilize horsehide that is mostly considered a byproduct of slaughtered horses.

— The focus of my work has mainly been material experiments, where I strive to find solutions to replace toxic materials out of natural materials, like the series of projects where I researched the meat industry and the waste materials it produces. —It’s a difficult subject matter, which appealed to me in the first place. I think as designers we also need to be ready to tackle uncomfortable issues. I see the products I sell almost as by-products of my process as a designer and they are sold as a limited edition.

What else do you have coming, now and this fall?

— Covid has changed a lot of my plans for this fall. Tactility has been an important part of my material projects but now touching has become a kind of a taboo and I have to rethink how I showcase my work. Usually, viewers would be allowed to touch the material experiments to experience them. Now, when touching should be kept to a minimum, I have started exploring using Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) to stimulate the viewers’ senses to experience the materials and will continue working on that concept this fall. •