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Opinion

”Manufacturers should produce and offer customers sustainable products”

Design procurement consultancy Dodds & Shute has ranked Swedish furniture brands as the most sustainable in the world. On top of that, firms from Scandinavia are topping the prestigious sustainability ranking. We speak to Cecilia Ask Engström, head of industry development at The Swedish Federation of Wood and Furniture Industry, on Scandinavia’s green impact on furniture manufacturing.

How come Sweden is so good when it comes to sustainability?

— I think that most swedes grow up with a close connection to nature, which results in it being natural for swedes to care about the environment. This in combination with Sweden, already from the get-go, establishing quite strict environmental laws affecting all production in Sweden.

— Compared to other industrialized countries, Sweden still has a large furniture production when compared to other branches of industry. With Sweden being aware of the importance of this, we have also acquired a sensible focus on production which has led to larger control of our complete production.

Many Scandinavian firms score the highest in the list. Have you experienced that the Scandinavian sustainable mindset differs from the rest of the world?

— I think that people in Scandinavia has a closer connection to nature and that might be a large part behind their reasoning about why we should do less harm to nature.

What are some of the lessons other countries can learn? 

— That there is no good alternative to producing sustainable products. It is also very important to cooperate to find common solutions, if the industry cooperates and has the same demands, it is easier for suppliers to invest in new and more sustainable solutions.

What does this report mean for the Swedish furniture companies? 

— This report is important, many Swedish furniture companies have invested a lot to be able to produce more sustainable products and they sometimes find that in the end the customer still chooses the cheapest product. The consequence of this report will hopefully result in a larger quantity of these customers, in these types of cases, will start working with only the most sustainable companies. It is highly important that the customer makes these conscious decisions.

How much is down to the consumers? Are they the ones putting the pressure on manufacturers to be sustainable?

— In Sweden, the public procurer requires sustainable furniture in public tenders. Private consumers have historically not been so interested in sustainability. I think that we are now seeing how this is changing.

Dodds & Shute sustainability report

— I think that in the end consumers should not have to think so much about buying sustainable products. I think that the manufacturers instead only should produce and offer the customers sustainable products.

The Dodds & Shute report also said that many global furniture manufacturers turn a blind eye to sustainable issues. What are your experiences with this?

— It is time-consuming and you have to invest to be able to achieve sustainable production. You have to have control over every part of your business in a detailed manner. Some global furniture manufactures focus more on short term wins.

How much does this mean for the industry?

— I think that the Swedish furniture industry should be really proud, all their work they have put in to be able to produce sustainable products has resulted in that they now are world leaders in producing sustainable furniture.

How is the industry doing in the pandemic? 

— In the spring the industry had a really tough period, there was almost no orders. In may we started to see positive signs. No producers for the domestic market has (kitchen, beds home furniture) have a good year. On the other hand producers for the contract market still has a tough market situation.

How does the future look or the furniture industry? Any specific challenges?

— The whole industry is working with transformation into digitalization and producing circular products. I think that the covid pandemic will affect the way we live our lives that will affect the industry, there is a lot of discussions about the future office. How and where will we meet and work?

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News

5 tips for furnishing your home with technology

It can be quite challenging to make way for technology for the interior and design enthusiast. Most often you have to decide to focus on accessibility or style, especially If you’re on a tight budget. But one does not have to exclude the other. At least if you ask Samsung and prominent Swedish interior decorator Henrik Nero. Both have noticed that technology is becoming increasingly significant to our homes and lives, and are seeing an increased interest in technology that matches the interior decoration styles of different customer’s homes.

— Technology and interior design haven’t always aligned. Today, there’s a lot of products that not only fit with the interior design of a room, it even perfects it. The technology blends into the interior like design furniture, it integrates like a painting on the wall or adding colour to the kitchen. Today it’s simple to combine modern technology and stylish home, says Henrik Nero in a statement.

With this in mind, Samsung is now launching a new collaboration with the Nordic website Royal Design, expanding its technology products outside consumer electronics retailers where they usually reside. Selected design products from Samsung are now available at the design retailer and e-talier. And to help future consumers to further camouflage their tech products into their home, Henrik Nero has shared five tips to have in mind. Read them below.

1. Go for design!
Choose technology products that have a well thought out design. Just like when it comes to furniture, the best design is timeless and can be used for many years. Technology with a clear technical appearance does not always age well and need to be replaced frequently to not to feel outdated. 

2. Matching color scales! 
Choose technology in the same color palette as your other interior to make it a part of your overall interior design.

3. Avoid visible cables! 
Today there are smart solutions that minimize visible cables, for example cables that are almost invisible. This gives you the opportunity to have a stylish TV and a connection box in another part of the room, for example in a cupboard. 

4. Plan the overall look! 
Make a plan on how you want the technology to work together with the rest of the interior. Should it just melt in as part of a wall of pictures, or should it be a statement piece that perfects the room? But be sure to choose one of them.  

5. Skip the TV bench! 
Place the TV directly on a wall or use a stand to avoid large furniture, like a TV bench. The tech products should not limit your interior design.