The problem with loving all things Scandinavian is that for those of us in the United States, the objects of our affection are at least 4,000 miles away. While some larger companies make Scandinavian design available internationally, it's much more difficult to discover and get a hold of the work of independent designers. That's why Tiffany Orvet recently launched from Sthlm (fromsthlm.com), a website that helps connect design-lovers around the world with the work of independent Swedish designers by featuring the work of one designer each month.
Orvet has always had a passion for design. With a background in television production, Orvet gained some hands-on design experience while working on the 2004 Discovery Channel film “The Launch.” The documentary focused on the design process of a barbecue (chosen for its relatability to American audiences), following the process from conception through manufacturing. The final result was the Fuergo barbecue by Pentagram.
Orvet travels frequently to Sweden with her husband, a Stockholm native. Through her visits she observed that talented Swedish designers face a challenge: A creative culture that promotes independent designers within the country but does little to help promote them abroad. “The designers are encouraged and accustomed to taking products directly to distributors under their own names and eponymous labels,” Orvet says.
Companies like DesignTorget, which focuses on finding and selling the goods of unknown domestic designers, assist artists in selling their goods throughout Sweden, but “there’s no good mechanism for getting them out of the country so it’s a dead end,” Orvet says. “There is all this great stuff that’s not making it over to the U.S.”
Orvet launched Sthlm in April 2009. The site features one designer each month and offers a carefully curated selection of up to four pieces from the featured artist’s portfolio. “There’s not a ‘from Sthlm’ line because the site is all about the designer, their story, their products, and the reason why they did certain things to create the products,” Orvet says. “We have limited space in our homes so everything in them should be special, and we should know where they come from and why they look like they do.”
The first designer featured on her site is Lotta Kühlhorn, a graphic designer best known for her book cover designs. On fromsthlm.com, her small collection includes a set of coasters, a cutting board, and a set of tea towels. They sold out within two and a half weeks.
The May featured artist will be Lisa Bengtsson, who Orvet describes as the current It Girl of Sweden. Although Bengtsson is best known internationally for her Familjen wallpaper, Orvet will be selling four of Bengtsson’s Between Us Women series plates. The plates were introduced at this year’s Milan Furniture Fair and Orvet chose them for the month of May in part due to their thematic connection to Mothers’ Day.
To view a slideshow of Kühlhorn, Bengtsson, and their works (including a sneak peak of the Bengtsson plates for sale at from Sthlm beginning May 1), click the button at the top right-hand corner of this post, and be sure to visit from Sthlm at fromsthlm.com.