Karen Barbé Workshops

1 Sept 2008

Celebrating Traditions - Formex Autumn 08

I'm so happy to be able to visit Formex fair here in Stockholm. This season's theme was Celebrating Traditions, a tribute to Swedish traditions (Midsummer, snaps and national costumes) and craftsmanship (weaving, embroidery, needlework, lacework, silversmithing, etc.). I can't think of a better country than Sweden to hold a fair inspired by crafts and traditions. It always marvels me how they appreciate their traditional work and let it slip into their contemporary design. And I'm certain to say that the major influence as a designer after staying here probably is not the design or aesthetic itself, but the sense of national identity, respect and attachment to locally created things that makes you long for your own roots.

Talking about this I'd like to quote Ebba Redman from Domestic Craft who has an interesting view on Swedish crafts and how Scotland (or any other country given the case) could follow a similar path:

"There was Swedish tourist tat too. I could have bought myself a Viking helmet complete with yellow braids, or moose antler headband, anything with a Swedish flag on... Basically the same sort of Scottish tourist stuff you get. It just seemed there was also the good quality stuff, things that were handmade and traditional but also cool and really very funky (...) I think it's interesting what you said about national designs. Sweden is very nationalistic, perhaps more so than Scotland. I think it is fantastic living in a multicultural society and I think this adds so much to our lives. I think we need to use a broader language of Scottish designs, as you say there's tartan, thistles and Celtic knots... but there is also Fair Isle patterns, Arts and Crafts motifs, the dramatic scenery that surrounds us, all to take inspiration from. It seems there is actually a lot to be worked with not to mention the actual making skills themselves. I think we need to get out of the rut of making the same old 'Scottish' things and try and reestablish a new language of Scottish design. There is no reason why this couldn't reflect our society now and take on influences and ideas from the other cultures and people now living in Scotland. I think it is nice to have a theme or design motifs to associate with Scotland. The traditional crafts I saw in Sweden often used similar painted stencils or colours, or one element would be kept to tie it in as something traditional but the other elements of the design would be changed/modified. If there were somewhere showing traditional Scottish craft it would be great to not see a place only filled with tartan and thistles but have things made from local materials, or using traditional skills but in a contemporary way."

The pictures above belong to the "concept rooms" at Formex which were designed by Jan Rundgren and Lars Eriksson. Arranged by colours they contain objects that characterise the new and the old- from handicrafts to the new design. The fair's theme confirms the huge handmade/folklore/traditional trend for this coming year.

Among the overwhelming display of objects at the fair, I spotted my already favourite brands and also discovered some new names that I'd like to share here.

Linda Svensson (Sweden) - After working for clients such as IKEA, now this textile designer is launching her own collection of fabrics and pillows.

Lena Håkanson from Non Stop Design (Sweden) - Her design work is influenced by local traditions and crafts.

Pappelina (Sweden) - Bold patterns on plastic rugs, blankets, tablecloths and kitchen towels.

Erika Tubbin (Sweden) - Accessories, t-shirts and beautiful embroidered clogs (shown above), all surfaced with her signature pattern.

Stoffen & Sloffen (Neatherlands) - Vintage fabrics and the sweetest embroidered slippers imported from Greece.

For more pictures from Formex Autumn 08, go here.


Ebba Redman said...

Hi karen,
wow that fair looks amazing!! I wish I could have been there.. lovely to see your pictures though :-)
Think next time I am in Sweden I will have to hunt down a pair of those wrist warmers from your previous blog entry, they look so cool.
Hope all is well, keep going with your colourful blog,
Ebba xxx

Fine Little Day said...

Thank you for the peeps. I like your selection of pics in this blog!

Karen Barbé said...