Every Friday for the past few months, we’ve been delivering a weekly travel guide to a Nordic destination here on Scandinavianmind.com. This might seem like an odd format to launch in the midst of a pandemic when people are strapped to their hometowns for the foreseeable future, and even pan-Nordic travel is something of a distant utopian activity. But it has become one of our most popular pieces of content, perhaps because we are so starved of exotic experiences.
For us, this is a different way of profiling the many interesting and insightful personalities in the universe of lifestyle and technology that we cover. It’s also on par with our mission to become the window into Scandinavia for curious onlookers (there are quite a few from the UK, US, Germany and beyond, according to Google Analytics). It’s a fun and lighthearted way of kicking off the weekend and internally, and increasingly in our preambles, we have come to refer to these articles as our armchair travel series, and you all seem to agree it’s a splendid idea.
So, now i have a confession to make. The last guide we published, the one from Hemavan in the north of Sweden, was somewhat of an ego-trip. For this week’s sportlov — the Swedish sports holiday — I’ve relocated with my family to this northern ski village where my parents own a little house. And what better travel literature to bring with me than a fresh guide, curated by my friend Oscar Ödling.
Oscar’s life is a never-ending source of awe for me. He used to be a highly active fashion operative, working for some of Sweden’s most renowned brands, including Acne Studios, Byredo, and his own shirt company Another Shirt Please. Until one day, in a Keyser Zöse-like move, he was gone. Since we’d only kept in contact in a somewhat superficial way the past few years, I was not in the know of his life changes. So it was to some surprise that I found him three years ago on the top of the Hemavan mountain, flipping burgers from an outdoor grill to happy passerby skiers.
Since then, Oscar has been one of the most joyful characters in my social media feeds. I see him roaming the mountains in the summer with his stray dog, building a mobile sauna which he places by the most serene lakes, and all-in-all seeming to live a rather hassle-free lifestyle, some 900 kilometres from central Stockholm.
Oscar’s transformation is a reminder to all of us that there are alternative ways to attack these few decades of time we call life. And it’s no surprise that my first stop when arriving on the slopes of Hemavan last Saturday, was to stop by the mountain café Folkes, where Oscar is still flipping burgers for most of the high ski season. He serves me an excellent local IPA and sits down to talk to us about life in Lapland.
His next move? Building a brand of snowmobile overalls.
I know a lot of downtown hipsters who would line up to buy their pair of overalls, if only to get a small piece of the freedom that is Oscar Ödling’s life in Hemavan, Northern Sweden.
I know I’m enjoying my slice of it this week. And I will savour it for many months to come once I’m back in Stockholm.
Norwegian-born Dolva Törnberg describes how Fjällräven considers waste as lost potential.
— Samlaren (The Gatherer) is a great example of how we can minimize waste by giving leftover fabrics new life as limited-edition pieces, she says. It’s a project under our umbrella initiative Zero Waste and the collection features limited products made from left-over materials from our production.
What was the toughest challenge when creating it?
— We realized that perfectly functional and durable materials were left on the shelves, as we could not use 100% of it in our regular production. We wanted to turn this from being a problem, into creating products of value. The challenge for our design team was that we had these small material quantities in random colours, not planned to be used together. We wanted to use it in the best way, and so the design team had to form the design and development process around optimizing the use of these fabrics.
— Usually, the materials will be the answer to the product need, this time we had to look at it the other way around. It’s been a challenging but fun journey. Sometimes clear restrictions can open up great creative paths.
Expect for Samlaren, how will you work with circularity onwards?
— The concept of circularity is wide and includes both how we work with ensuring that the products can last for as long as possible, hopefully for generations or perhaps enabling second or third owners use as well. Those are the closest loops in the circles, where we keep the product value at its highest, and put the environmental impact to the best use. Circularity also focuses on what materials we use; how much is virgin and how much is recycled. Recycled input materials are a priority when we select new what we call ”preferred materials”. As a final part, circularity is also what can happen at the end of a product’s lifespan, and there is a lot of interesting developments in material recycling that are coming up. One exciting example is our recovered wool program where we managed to develop products using wool from Sweden that would otherwise have gone to waste tells Dolva Törnberg.
She shares how the company’s constant search for recycled materials, and different alternatives and innovations related to sustainability will result in a new fabric for the upcoming fall.
— It’s called Pine Weave, which we have spent the past years developing. It is a plant-based, durable material made of traceable wood raw material from cultivated and certified spruce and pine trees outside Örnsköldsvik, Fjällräven’s hometown, in northern Sweden. The fabric will be introduced for the first time in a new and exciting addition to our iconic Kånken Family: Tree Kånken.
The Finnish designer did have a different life before joining the fashion industry.
— It includes studying social work at Helsinki University, figuring out that I’m not a good enough person to be doing that for the rest of my life, he tells. Continuing from there to poker, figured that was not the get-rich-quick-scheme meant for me and from there finding fashion.
He studied fashion at Aalto University when Tuomas Laitinen was the teacher and today, he’s one of the industry’s most exciting names from the Nordics.
— The collection is inspired by straw, the main ingredient of the Bio2-textile that I was given by Fortum. I wanted to build the whole collection around straw and create a sort of tongue-in-cheek cult following around it. We made prints out of Finnish fields where the straw was picked up, prints about straw mobiles — himmeli — that are still quite popular in Finland. Also straw-figurines and other decorations. We made tons of handmade straw decorations in this collection, and when I say ”we”, I mean my mum. She was amazing! says Ekroth, also praising Matilda Diletta and Tino Nyman from his graphical team, who made the prints.
Tell us more about the special fabric you’re using.
— It’s called Bio2 and is a textile fiber made from straw. The raw material is straw, an agro-residue that’s typically discarded or even burned. Burning straw is one of the biggest polluting problems in the world. This textile could in the future replace fossil-based raw materials and in this way, it would reduce land degradation and deforestation. We started talks with Fortum just before Covid hit, we continued talks with them and at the beginning of autumn, we had the first samples meters of the fabric.
Will you keep working with it?
— Hopefully so. The quality is amazing, I would compare it to the jerseys that Rick Owens uses in his collections. I think this innovation is the future for the textile industry. There have been a lot of different eco-friendly products in the past, but the feel and luxury quality have been missing, at least in jersey products for me, Ekroth states.
How’d you describe the digital presentation showing the collection?
— The basic idea for the video was simple: From tradition to modernity, from past to future, from dark to light. Alban Adam, who I’ve been working on from the beginning of the brand, directed the video, and Tuomas Laitinen styled it. We had an amazing film crew, make-up and hair team, and crazy good models, and shot the video in Finland in just one day.
Rolf Ekroth has one more special project with another Finnish company on the way, with more details expected to be revealed soon.
The chemical engineer has a background in R&D and is currently working at IDUN Minerals as Sustainability Manager, in charge of the Swedish skincare and cosmetics company’s sustainability work.
Over the last few years, the entire industry has experienced a transformation not only in terms of using more sustainable ingredients and formulas but also better packaging. And, even if there’s still a long way to go, IDUN is a clear industry leader.
— Due to the pressure on brands to be sustainable, the interest in better packaging has increased, Abdi tells. Cosmetics packaging has usually been quite heavily consisting of a mixture of materials due to the ”luxurious” feel that customers relate this with. A few years ago, it was quite difficult to find packaging in recycled plastic, bioplastic, and, generally, plastics that are recyclable. It is also difficult to find packaging in ”good” materials that are compatible with the products that we sell since the cosmetic formulations can be sensitive to light, temperature, and bacteria. Now we can see that many producers are getting much better with their own sustainability work and a part of that has also been to offer a range of packaging that has better sustainability factors. We still have a long way to go but it has become better.
What do you think about virgin plastic in packaging?
— The way that we are using and producing plastic right now is not sustainable at all. We need to minimize the use of fossil-based plastic, get better at recycling what we actually put out on the market, and find alternative materials. Plastic as a material is very durable and non-reactive and sometimes the only material that works with cosmetic formulations. So, the solution is not to completely stop using plastic but to find alternative materials and increase the usage of recycled plastic. I think that we need a larger variety of materials to use for different purposes as to not depend on plastic solely.
Bioplastics, Abdi tells, can be a good alternative to fossil-based plastic, due to either deriving from a renewable resource or being degradable.
— However, it is important to know which bioplastic is used and how the aftercare for this should be. Green-Polyethylene for example, which is produced from a sugarcane waste product, should be handled and recycled exactly the same as fossil-based polyethylene since they are the same, except for the raw material. Polylactic acid, on the other hand, is a degradable bioplastic and should therefore not be put in the recycling bin since there is no system for recycling these degradable materials. This will instead contaminate the purity of the other recycled plastics. It is important to find a varying source of renewable raw material for producing bioplastics as to not stress just a few of the resources.
What about recycled plastic? Is that a good option?
— Yes, the usage of recycled plastics should become more of a standard in the industry. We need to make sure that the plastics we put out in the market are used again. It has been a challenge in the switch to recycled plastics since there are some difficulties in establishing a continuous source for the material and also ensuring purity and non-contamination. The demand for recycled plastics is increasing and since we are moving towards new innovations in the recycling sphere I think that the usage of recycled plastics will increase during the next years.
What’s the major challenge for you as a cosmetic brand regarding packaging?
— The offered assortment of packaging that is more sustainable has been scarce since this has not previously been such a big issue in the cosmetic industry. We have been working closely with suppliers to produce packaging that are better, more luxurious looking, and qualitative, as well as being compatible with our products’ formulas.
How do you see the future of packaging? What will happen?
— I predict that there will be a larger variety of packaging to choose from. We can see now that a lot of new innovations in packaging are coming forward. I hope that the circularity of the packaging becomes more prioritized and recycling will be much better. Lighter, brighter, and more sustainable, says Abdi, adding,
— On our side, we are currently working with redesigning the packaging of our whole assortment to better be able to recycle all products and also try to minimize both plastic and the used material overall. We are also working on educating the consumer on why we do these changes and how they can contribute to it by recycling our packaging. We want them to know and understand that sustainability is the new and modern form of luxury.
The former professional football player retired after going to the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 with the New Zealand national team. One thing he knew from his football career was that shoes were generally made from synthetics.
— And since I’m from New Zealand — the land of +20 million sheep — I started kicking around this idea of using wool in footwear. The brand was born from an insight that there was an opportunity to create sleek, logo-free shoes from natural materials that could be better for the planet. After years of working on this idea off and on, I was lucky to be introduced to my co-founder Joey Zwillinger, who shared my vision and understood the potential of the business idea, and together we launched the brand.
He and his colleagues refer to San Francisco-based Allbirds as a natural material innovation brand, designing and developing footwear and apparel made from natural materials such as Merino wool, eucalyptus-free fiber, sugarcane, and more.
— As a B Corp, Brown explains, our mission is to tread lighter on the planet and help our customers live life in better balance by providing them with sustainable wardrobe solutions.
The brand launched in 2016 with one silhouette, the Wool Runner.
— It took us 14 months before we introduced our second style, so we’ve always been very thoughtful in our approach to releasing new products. We design our collections with sustainability as a non-negotiable, led by this fundamental insight that people don’t buy sustainable products, they buy great products.
— We believe that business should be used as a force for good to create positive impact. We recognize the need to decarbonize the fashion industry and beyond, and we hope to inspire an industry-wide shift from petroleum-based synthetics to renewable natural materials. As we race towards a carbon negative future, we need to drastically lower our carbon emissions, which is why we started to label our products with their carbon footprint to hold ourselves accountable. We’re also 100% carbon neutral since 2019. We hope to encourage other businesses to follow our lead in becoming more carbon conscious.
Tell us more about your fabric innovations.
— We are constantly innovating and sourcing natural materials, says Brown. SweetFoam, made from sugarcane, is our green alternative to EVA, the ubiquitous synthetic-based foam traditionally used in most shoe soles. It’s actually carbon negative in its raw form and we decided to open-source the technology to the wider industry as it could truly transform the footwear industry’s dependence on petroleum.
— TrinoXO, the material in our t-shirts, is a super yarn that blends Merino wool with eucalyptus fibre — making it light, breezy, and temperature-regulating. Its secret ingredient is what we call XO, an extract from discarded crab shells that has unique anti-odor properties. This means you need to wash your tee less, ultimately reducing the carbon footprint of the product.
Even though they’re very sustainable, these material blends might make the pieces more difficult to recycle. How do you resonate with that?
— Recycling is a complex topic in the fashion industry, that no one has found a silver bullet solution to yet, unfortunately. Collaboration across the industry will be key in unlocking the best way to collect, repurpose, and recycle textiles at the end of their lifecycle, without resulting in any unintended consequences like increased carbon emissions due to additional transportation between customers, brands and recycling facilities. We’re constantly looking into new end-of-life solutions, while also continuing to invest in lowering the footprint of our materials and manufacturing, which, like for nearly all retail brands, make up the bulk of our emissions.
This week, Allbirds announced a $2M investment in material innovation firm Natural Fiber Welding and its Mirum technology, as seen in the top picture, aiming to bring the most sustainable leather alternative to the industry.
— Through this partnership, Brown tells, we’ll be introducing a 100% natural plant-based leather alternative, destined for our collections. Knowing how confusing it can be for customers to understand what things are made from, we’re simply calling it Plant Leather. It doesn’t contain any plastic and it’s also biodegradable. But more importantly, we’re very proud that its carbon footprint is 40 times lower than traditional leather and 17 times lower than synthetic leather made from plastic. We believe it can be a game-changer for the fashion industry and beyond and we can’t wait to introduce it to our customers, end of this year.
We revisit a roundtable talk originally recorded for the Italian trade show Pitti Uomo and their digital platform Pitti Connect. Panellists are: Rasmus Storm from Storm Copenhagen, Silas Adler from Soulland, and T-Michael and Alexander Helle from Norwegian Rain.
In this talk we cover:
How their approach to sustainability has transformed over the last few years.
What changes in attitudes they see in their consumers after 2020.
The importance of having a strong work-life- balance.
After 14 years in Stockholm and the fashion industry, working for Acne Studios, Byredo, Aesop Skin Care and his own shirt brand Another Shirt Please, Oskar Ödling decided to move up north with Roxy the dog to his feelgood place and cabin in Tärnaby, located in the south of Lapland. What was meant to be a one year retreat, turned out to be four years, and still counting.
Today Oskar runs a small cafe up on the mountain near his grandmother’s childhood village, and in his free time, he creates and builds stuff in his workshop.
My favourite thing that makes me proud of Hemavan:
Easy question — nature! Up here we are surrounded by mountains, rivers and untouched forests. It’s a smorgasbord of nice views in any direction you look, winter or summer.
My favourite weekend routine:
I love my fireplace! So definitely a morning fire in the stove, some fresh filter coffee and some bad morning tv with my dog and cat. During the summer I try to fly fish as much as I can when I’m off work, and on a winter weekend, I would probably just have a Campari in the sauna.
The best dinners are served by my friend Niek Meuls at his place. In Tärnaby/Hemavan though, I would say the architect-designed restaurant Björk, serving local food and beverages from the area. Set right on the slopes, the wall-to-wall windows of the cleverly designed Björk a-frame gives an impressive panorama view of the mountains.
My favourite place for a creative or business meeting:
I would have to say the terrace at my mountain cafe Folke’s! Some homemade fika or a local beer and the meeting will be a success!
My favourite breakfast place:
Breakfast in bed or by the fireplace.
My favourite city escape:
I live in nature, so nowadays I’m the one escaping to the city and to the crowds! In Sweden, I probably escape to Stockholm where I still have most of my friends. Likely you would find me with them at our favourite table at Riche.
My favourite local entrepreneur or creative I want to promote:
I need to say Per Enoksson aka Hikki who’s a local designer here in Tärnaby/Hemavan. He designed two outdoor bathtubs that I need!
My favourite hotel for a staycation:
Lovund Hotell on an island on the north coast of Norway, just a couple of hours from Hemavan. Stunning view and lovely food.
My favourite route for a run or walk:
I hate running, so my favourite walk with my dog would be to the mountain Sarviestjåhke by the lake Nolphen. It takes around 90 min to get to the top from the road and the view is spectacular! 1148 MSL and on a clear day you’re able to see all the way to Norway. Worth it every time!
My favourite place for fashion:
Tokyo, Japan. Great people, quality, food, architecture and so on. I just love everything about Tokyo.
My favourite space for great design:
The garage/workshop that my father and I built. I’m all into furniture design and concrete steel at the moment. So that’s the place to be for me.
My favourite example of tech innovation in Hemavan:
Founder Lin Kowalska describes how the connecting thread for her as an entrepreneur always has been to make it easier for people to gather around what they are passionate about.
— And Popswap is a new way of expressing their interest in fashion, she tells.
The app, by some described as ”Tinder for secondhand items”, aims to make it easy and fun for people to update their wardrobes by swapping clothes with each other instead of shopping for new clothes.
— We want to help the you as a user to continue to live out your fashion interest, without a bad climate conscience and without spending a single penny, says Kowalska.
Together with Swedish Fashion Council, Popswap now launches Fashion Goals Academy, to spread climate facts, knowledge, and inspiration aimed at high school students in Sweden.
— The idea came during the time I myself lectured to high school students about sustainable fashion. I quickly noticed the need for more knowledge tailored to students. We want to make them understand why they need to change the way they consume fashion and how they can do it.
And how will you do it?
— Through a free series of digital lectures with accompanying exercises. The lecturers [featured in top, Ed’s note] are a mix of fashion and environmental experts, influencers taken from the students’ world, to make the course as highly motivating and tailored to the target group as possible.
Why is it such an important initiative?
— High school students, who belong to Generation Z, are the biggest consumers of our time — while they are the future. I think they are an incredibly cool new generation growing up. And one that cares a lot about sustainability. We see that resale is growing 25X faster than retail, and it is Gen Z that is the force behind the development, says Kowalska, adding,
— By targeting Generation Z, we can both change the way they and future generations consume fashion, but we can also inspire them to invest in the fashion industry as a profession to promote sustainable fashion.
How’s the reception from schools and students?
— It will be more students taking the course than I could ever imagine. At the moment, we have more than 2 000 school classes signed up, which would mean around 40 000 students will join the course. But we keep getting new signed up each day so we’ll see by the end of the term how many that participated, says Kowalska.
As Stockholm Design Week coincided with Stockholm Fashion Week, the premium flooring company invited fashion brand Stand Studio to their brand new VR platform. They showed their new SS21 campaign, featuring Caroline Winberg, together with Bolon’s new flooring collection. A recording from the VR tour, followed by a talk with STAND STUDIO’s founder and Creative Director Nellie Kamras and Modaoperandi’s Lisa Aiken is available here.
Cappelen Dimyr’s eclectic No.07 carpet
Soft, irregular pattern of highs and lows creates a vivid and intriguing feel. Chunky tassels frames the rug, made completely of unbleached New Zeeland wool.
Collective Impressions by Kasthall
The new carpet collection mixes new interpretations of old designs as well as new launches and includes 80s-inspired Square as well as black and white graphic rug Påfågel (Peacock).
26 design brands in unique installation
Inside Swedish Design gathered world-leading companies and internationally renowned designers as well as the next-generation of talents for the interior landscape of tomorrow. It’s now available as a virtual tour.
Veermakers by Liljencrantz Design
During Stockholm Design Week, Liljencrantz Design and KFK Master Cabinet-Makers presented their new collaboration Veermakers. It’s a design brand focusing on quality and timeless design to create exclusive furniture without compromise on design, production, or material choice.
Spira by Mylhta
Designer Lisa Hilland introduces the new furniture series Spira, including a chair, a lounge chair, a rocking chair, a sofa, and a screen wall. It’s described as a tribute to nature, Swedish craftsmanship, and to wood and wood production.
The eye-catching Big Talk
Adam Goodrum’s lounge chair uses fabric from Febrik/Kvadrat and is taking possession of any space. It’s a geometrically precise solitaire full of colour, but can also bring us together. Side-by-side for a couple, or as a snakelike installation where one can be all alone or starting a conversation with unknown exciting people.
Jasmin by Layla Mehdi Pour for Offecct
Offecct offers a wide range of sound absorbing wall panels, designed by world-leading designers, and the versatile Soundwave collection not only provides a good acoustic environment but also brings character to the interior. The Jasmine acoustic panel is the result of the first collaboration with Italy-based product designer Layla Mehdi Pour.
— When I designed Jasmine, I was inspired by natural elements that may seem irregular in their macro form, but in the details have a wonderful precision and regular structure. In this case, I started foremost from flowers and developed them into a concrete product with a playful character, she says.
Fogia’s boundary-breaking table
Koku is a range of symmetric and harmonic tables, drawing inspiration from the American-Japanese architect, designer, and craftsman George Nakashima, and created in collaboration with Danish architect and design studio Norm Architects. Available in three sizes.
Trendgruppen Design TV
Due to the restrictions, Stockholm Design Week was mainly digital, and so was leading PR agency Trendgruppen’s presentations. The firm invited industry insiders, designers, representatives from their clients, and other guests to their studio with a set design by Aska Arkitekter, to be interviewed by trend expert Stefan Nilsson. The five episodes are 15 minutes long and available here.
Note Design Studio + Gunilla Allard for Lammhults
Design legend Allard and the iconic Swedish design house Lammhults have turned to Note Design Studio for some fresh creative thinking. The result is Sunny, a versatile, low-slung, and comfortable armchair in an elegantly simple design formed from a sinuous steel piping frame, topped with a mattress-like cushion.
Massproductions lets DJ Axel Boman explore the ”sound” of new BAM! sofa
The award is a collaboration between Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair and the Bukowskis auction house and goes to a new item of furniture or lighting that is judged to be a potential design classic of the future.
2021 year’s winner is the Puffy Lounge Chair, by the experimental and unconventional star of British design Faye Toogood, designed for the Stockholm-based interior design brand Hem.
”While the design of this year’s Born Classic winner is firmly rooted in our age, we believe the designer has created a future classic. With both aesthetic and material qualities, we are confident that this piece of furniture is going to be appreciated for a long time to come. This acclaimed armchair has already enjoyed a warm reception and been widely shared on social media, which is even more reason to think that this is a Born Classic.”
Fabien Cappello’s limited plate line made of offcuts
Speaking of Hem, we talk to the French furniture and spatial designer about his new line, celebrating local Mexican craft traditions and the beauty of reusing, here.
Sculptural table Savoa by Sakari Hartikainen for Swedese
The classic Swedish furniture company’s new series of tables is designed in collaboration with Finnish industrial designer Hartikainen. It’s made of solid oak with sculptural shapes, that show the characteristics of the wood, and the design is characterized by playfulness and a light feel. Available in three sizes.
”I’ve discovered the countryside and the joy of making things myself again”
We speak to Tom Dixon on Scandinavian design, lockdown lifestyle changes, and his new CLOUD collection that debuted at Stockholm Design Week here.
Atelier Bar Stool by TAF for Artek
The crafted solid wood stool complements the Atelier Chair, which was designed for the new restaurant of the National Museum in Stockholm in 2018.
Per Söderberg explores the beauty of Calacatta marble in new Bespoke line
”Calacatta is the world’s most sought-after stone, which makes it incredibly exclusive. What’s typical for Calacatta is that it has a very distinct dark grain against a white background. The whiter the background, the more exclusive the marble. Each marble slab is unique and each part of the slab has its own character.” More here.
Daniel Wester expresses the beauty of hand-carved fresh wood
The Swedish wood artist’s design process is slow. ”It takes time for the tree to grow. And it takes time for me to carve the pieces and forms I want to,” he explains here.
DUX x Carl Hansen & Søn
The two players launch a bed based on sketches found in Børge Mogensen’s archives. With a sleek design and compelling choice of materials they describe how the best of two worlds are combined — DUX’s expertise in sleeping comfort, and Carl Hansen & Søn’s tradition for craftsmanship and design. The bed has never been in production before.