Every February Sweden hosts Stockholm Design Week for more than 700 exhibitors from Scandinavia and around the world. Like Milan, but smaller and more intimate, the city transforms itself with shows springing up at dinner parties and vernissage cocktails, galleries, showrooms, museums and cultural institutions. It is the perfect platform for an emerging designer with a knock-out new collection.
This year highlights included a retrospective of Finnish designer Eero Aarnio at the Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, new animal-inspired pieces amongst a retrospective of works by Guest of Honour, Spanish designer Jaime Hayón, the exhibition 'Designed to Last' at the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design that looked at what it means to make objects for the long-term, and the ever-popular Greenhouse exhibit featuring work by up-and-coming designers who this year included the Australian Tom Fereday.
There were actually a lot of Australians over there, so there were a lot of familiar faces like Nikolai Kotlarczyk who makes objects and furniture and is now based in Copenhagen." remarks Tom who is now in London for a well deserved break.
Making a debut is always stressful. Particularly when the idea is to present yourself on the other side of the world to a completely new market. "I tried to take the best bits that represent me, so I took SP01 Outdoor and some new lighting", explains Tom. "The Bailey lights and the SP01 Jeanette Chair and Eileen Table to me really have a commonality, a sort of Scandinavian aesthetic."
Breaking from the stereotype blonde timbers and silent detailing, this year in Stockholm there were a lot of local companies who on first impressions would not be tagged as Scandinavian at all. London-born Chris Martin, founder of local brand Massproductions produced pieces that are pared back but vibrant in colour and texture, and Danish group Gubi whose somewhat 1950s aesthetic has a warmth that would be comfortable on the set of Mad Men.
"We all know the iconic Scandinavian pieces but what was interesing to me were pieces that weren't necessarily Scandinavian looking at all. They had a twist," remarks Tom. "Massproductions have a different edge to their pieces. While Nichetto Studio for Fogia launched a new lounge called Jord and you could see the mix of Swedish sensibility and Italian design. For me, I was really interested in the products that were collaborations and where you could see other inputs."
Like many of the other standout brands in Stockholm, SP01 Outdoor is a hybrid mix. A collection designed by an Australian and manufactured by some of the world's best makers in Italy. It is simple yet complex in detailing, and quality is central to everything. Designing for the outdoors in Australia requires super tough credentials, and salt mist testing was done for 1500 hours which is nearly double the standard test for automotive panels used by many car brands.
Not going unnoticed SP01 Outdoor drew interest from India, the USA and Europe, while the stand Tom built himself on location was selected by Archiproducts as a standout at this year's fair.
"I met people who were interested in representing SP01 in Europe and people interested to chat. I found it interesting to reflect on what I am doing and I found it confidence-boosting that product being designed in Australia is of international standard. That gave me confidence to continue going forward".