Kristoffer Fagerström is a Swedish designer who has been gaining increasing international attention for his stark yet playful designs that are grounded in the tradition of Nordic modernism but approach materials with a certain humour and irony following on from deconstruction and post-modernism as design languages.
His SOOT architects desk is the latest in a series of projects that he has undertaken for hip Stockholm practice Note Design Studio. The project is a collaboration with budding cabinetmaker Karolina Stenfelt who more or less gave him carte blanche to design a new desk that would form her journeyman project at the prestigious Carl Malmsten School of Furniture. The only real direction he was given was to design a desk in which not everything was revealed at first glance. And, indeed, Kristoffer rose to the challenge.
The resulting SOOT desk at first appears to be a black box held in a frame taking its cue from classic modernism; think for example of Eileen Grey’s designs for desks and writing tables. But, whereas the likes of Ms Grey and her generation used materials like sumptuous lacquers for deep black colour, closer inspection of the SOOT desk reveals that its name is very much to the point. The exterior is covered in an experimental veneer created by literally charring the painstakingly manufactured herringbone pattern exterior. It is at once a precocious – almost horrifyingly anti-social- gesture that brings an immediately dramatic air to the piece. But, the contrast with the beautiful, more traditionally treated herringbone motif within the interior of the desk also heightens our awareness of the beauty of the traditional craft deployed.
This almost festishistic reconsideration of traditional cabinet making techniques is reinforced by what lurks beneath the charred lid of the desk. Carefully finished sockets for electricity and USB connections, traditional sliding rulers and sketch paper rolls are all incorporated into the treasure trove of the desk’s interior where the soft tones of the pine herringbone dominate, unspoiled by the punishing fire. Beautifully finished traditional locks in brass bring small details that connect this desk with noble tradition of handcrafted furniture.
This is the most recent of Fagerström’s projects for Note Design Studio. His other works have also already gained international attention, perhaps most notably his deceptively simple FRAME bench design that was judged the “sharpest design product of the year” by the likes of I-D magazine and almost immediately found customers eager to deploy its good looks and practicality as public seating.
One gets the feeling that Mr Fagerström is one of those emerging designers who will soon be something of a familiar name on the international design circuit.