Scandinavia's design roots run deep, and Stockholm based architects Claesson Koivisto Rune are the pick of the crop, leading the way in the region's renaissance.
Nordic design never goes out of fashion, as Scandinavian architect trio Claesson Koivisto Rune know all too well.
Claesson, Eero Koivisto and Ola Rune, aka architecture and design practice CKR, have built an impressive reputation as a design force to be reckoned with, one which exceeds far beyond the shores of the Baltic. Since CKR's inception in 1995 the much laudable trio have built an international client list which boasts architectural projects for Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Sony and stylishly Scandinavian ambassadorial residences. They've also designed award-winning products for the world's leading design manufacturers, Cappellini and Boffi, to name but two.
Eero Koivisto and Ola Rune recount their inexhaustible list of new designs, presented at this year's Milan Furniture Fair.
What are you working on at the moment?
Eero: I think the most exciting thing that we're doing at the moment is working with a firm in Sweden (Arkitekthus) which produces kit houses. Apart from that, it's a sofa here, a chair there...
Ola: We've also been working with an Italian company called Paola Lenti, which is new for us.
How do you find working with Italian companies, do they generally invest more in design?
Ola: If they find the design interesting enough then they take the risk. It might take longer to develop than you expect, but they do take risks.
Arne Jacobsen, Alvar Aalto and Josef Frank, architects such as CKR are currently working within different disciplines of design, from building to furniture and furnishing design. Are we witnessing a revival, or has the architect/designer combination always been prevalent?
Eero: If you look back in time, architects also designed furniture, but then specialization came along, defining the modern idea of what an architect was. And then we became specialized, like a lot of other professions. I think the combination was natural, to me specialization was crazy. I find it weird if someone is doing just interiors.
Furniture has become very architecturally inspired. Many architects agree that when designing furniture, they consider how an item relates to its space rather than just the object. Is this true for you?
Ola: I think that when you work with these different kind of scales, it's impossible not to think about the space when you're thinking about a piece of furniture. If you take a look at what was shown in Milan this year, there were quite a few pieces which looked like buildings
Eero: For me designing furniture for the sake of it is silly. It is not only about the furniture business, it's about the design business. Furniture is also being inspired by fashion as well as a lot of other fields. So of course it will be inspired by architecture too. I also feel that at the moment architecture is in the process of getting a new language.
Which designers are inspiring you at the moment?
Ola: You get inspired by many people, like Patricia Urquiola, who is always exploring; for me this is very interesting and shocking. Some people just make it look so simple. For example, Magistretti has just made a nice sofa, which isn't so surprising, but he's in his 70s!
Swedish design seem to be quite prominent at the moment?
Eero: I think we have a good generation of designers right now, though it's really difficult to pinpoint the reason. We also have a wide variety of styles.
Ola: We have a lot of designers in Sweden, and there will be more and more.
What is your definition of luxury?
Both: Free time!
Ola: And big spaces, open air.
If luxury were an object, what would it be?
If luxury were a place, where would it be?
Ola: Somewhere away from the phone I think.
Eero: Bed, but maybe just at this moment - I went to bed at 5.30 this morning and yesterday I went to bed at 4.30!
If luxury were a moment, when would it be?
Eero: Waking up by yourself, because it never happens.
Ola: In particular, not waking up with your business partner!
Eero: Waking up after a long night's sleep.