Stockholm Design Week: The Archive Exhibition

Gloriously subtle and sophisticated objects made by Japanese and Danish designers

At this year’s Stockholm Design Week, Japanese studios Ariake and 2016/Arita collaborated with Danish design houses LE KLINT and Friends and Founders to present The Archive‘s exhibition—a standout and reflection of just how well their respective design aesthetics complement each other. The exhibition, curated by Hanna Nova Beatrice and styled by Annaleena Leino, was in the gorgeous Old National Archives (aka Gamla Riksarkivet) in Stockholm’s Old Town, Gamla Stan. Surrounded by other 18th and 19th century buildings, the Old National Archives building was designed by architect Axel Fredrik Nyström in 1890 and still retains many of its period details—including its curious metal slide that spirals down the hallway.

Not only did The Archive provide a rare chance to visit the building, which is rarely open to the public, it was also an enthralling display of contemporary Japanese and Scandinavian furniture and how beautifully it can fit within a more historic backdrop.

Speaking broadly, Japanese and Scandinavian design boast similarities, from drawing inspiration from nature to honoring generational artistry, and a penchant for modesty and minimalism. Along with high-quality and long-lasting craftsmanship, there’s oftentimes an emphasis on function seamlessly melding into everyday life. The two camps also celebrate sheer enjoyment—objects that feel as good as they look. Not only are the fabrics and materials touchable, so are the forms’ edges, folds and curves.

Founded in 2017, Ariake is a collaborative venture by Legnatec and Hirata Chair, two factories in Morodomi, a town located in Japan’s Saga prefecture. The name Ariake references the nearby Ariake Sea and means “daybreak” in Japanese. Keeping with tradition, the brand continues to make their furniture in Morodomi. This year, Ariake launched a Sake Table in collaboration with Note Design Studio, the Lattice Table and the high-backed Summit Lounge Chair with Norm Architects, the Kata coat stand by Rui Alves, the Rin sofa by Gabriel Tan and extended their Aizome series to include a wardrobe and sideboard, both by Zoë Mowat.

2016/Arita invited 16 international designers to Arita, Japan, to design objects in collaboration with local craftspeople. After all, porcelain-making is a skill deeply rooted in the history of the Arita region and carried over centuries, so the brand wanted to preserve and honor the knowledge and talents of locals while bringing international influences in to put a contemporary spin on the wares. At The Archive—the brand’s first exhibition in Scandinavia—2016/Arita presented the Edition series, 27 hand-painted dishes in collaboration with Scholten & Baijings, as well as the Standard series, which comprises 15 collections of kitchen items and vases. In a room at the end of the hallway, designer Shigeki Fujishiro’s cups added an alluring pop of color to the moody backdrop.

LE KLINT, founded by Tage Jensen Klint in 1943, is best known for its distinct hand-pleated lamps and lampshades which are carefully crafted in Odense, Denmark. Apprentice pleaters train for three years in order to master specific techniques and forms before they can qualify to work with the brand. At The Archive, LE KLINT presented the Swirl Lamp, made in collaboration with Øivind Slaatto (the same designer behind Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay A9). The lamp’s design plays on spirals, organic and natural shapes as well as basic mathematical principles. LE KLINT’s Classic pendants lit up the building with a warm, diffused glow as well.

Friends and Founders (established by Rasmus and Ida Linea Hildebrand) first presented at Stockholm Design Week in 2013. This year, they came to The Archive with a diverse presentation of upholstery, lighting and outdoor pieces. Ida Linea designs their furniture and it’s manufactured in Scandinavia whenever possible—though sometimes they branch out elsewhere in Europe. We were particularly drawn to their retro-meets-modern black and white Novel Chairs, the minimal Saw Table and their iconic, contemporary La Pipe Chair.

The Archive drew plenty of visitors during Stockholm Design Week. Among them was composer Yasuharu Okochi, who volunteered to design the individual brand soundtracks for the show. Each room played a different tune inspired by the designer’s aesthetic and vision. The music for Japanese brands Ariake and 2016/Arita employed the sounds of furniture being crafted and porcelain being produced, which were recorded by the composer in the respective factories. The combination of the picturesque setting and the visceral sounds meant guests could almost feel the warmth of the kiln itself.

Images courtesy of Grand Relations