Scandinavian Design Report 2011: Form Us With Love 10.08.11

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There's an echo in Form Us With Love's new studio on St Eriksgatan in Stockholm. John Löfgren, Petrus Palmér and Jonas Pettersson, the trio behind the design studio moved in six months ago, and they are still waiting for the arrival of Hexagon. It's a new sound-absorbent product that they have developed with the small, family-run company Träullit, the only manufacturer of woodwool cement board in Sweden.

As the name suggests, Hexagon is a hexagonal disc that measures 220mm and combined into a pattern it creates a sound-absorbent surface that is also pleasant to look at – a bit like Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec's North Tile for Kvadrat in Denmark. The launch, during Stockholm Furniture Fair, is going to be rather unexpected for a hip, young design group like Form Us With Love, but then again they have made an art of unlikely collaborations. "Woodwool cement board has never been considered a very sexy material, but now we are introducing it to the design market, hoping it will reach a new group of creative consumers," says Löfgren. "Besides, we need to stop 
the echoing in our studio."

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The project epitomises Form Us With Love's working process: to dig where they stand. Ever since they met 
at the product design course at Kalmar University in southern Sweden seven years ago, the members of Form Us With Love have really used their initiative, finding work during a time when it was scarce for many designers. In 
some ways, the biggest achievement for Form Us With Love isn't the products themselves but the process of manufacture. In its relentless search for new opportunities, Form Us With Love has shone a light on local, Swedish manufacturing, using the knowhow of small, family-run businesses, sometimes with no connection to the design industry whatsoever.

At Stockholm Furniture Fair, the studio will launch five new projects and two of them, Hexagon included, represent complete design overhauls of the companies Form Us With Love works with. The second example is the outdoor lighting manufacturer Westal, a factory in southern Sweden that's been going since 1947.

"We work on overall concepts and to some degree we think as marketing people. What we do in a way is brand building, both for ourselves and our clients," says Löfgren. For Westal, this means a 360-degree view of the brand where everything from product, exhibition display design and marketing material gets a new look. The product itself almost stands in the background – Fasett is a bent metal light that resembles a pleated lampshade and stands on a circular base, bringing a distinctly domestic look to the outdoors. "We're trying to make it look monumental and welcoming at the same time," says Pettersson.

Another light, called Hood, for Ateljé Lyktan is due to launch at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. Again the new studio space was the starting point for the collaboration. Having worked with Ateljé Lyktan before on the Ogle pendant and floor light, Form Us With Love turned to the company to develop a light for its conference table when it moved to its new premises. Designed to be both a light source and a sound barrier in the vast space, the piece forms a halo over the table. Although the light was made exclusively for Form Us With Love, Ateljé Lyktan is now working on a production model. "We want it to be a modular system with the possibility of growing however big it needs to be," says Palmér. The light is made up of separate felt panels that are assembled on site, making it a flat-pack product.

The studio at St Eriksgatan is on three levels and Form Us With Love wants the space to become a meeting place for creatives in Stockholm. It has already hosted a photography exhibition and there are plans for debates, lectures and a pop-up shop. This kind of thinking is typical of Form Us With Love and a new generation of designers who are keener to collaborate rather than compete with one another. "It is more fun to work together with people – it's a more fertile ground for creativity. It's like a symbiosis where we nourish and grow together," says Löfgren.

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Jonas Lindstrom

 

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What we do in a way is brand building, both for ourselves and our clients

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