Guest of Honour for Stockholm Furniture Fair 2023
“You start down a path and you never know where it’s going to take you.”
Front is an unusual choice for the Stockholm Furniture Fair’s first Swedish Guest of Honour.
Simply put, the Stockholm-based studio is not particularly “Swedish”. Front’s work is in museum collections from New York to Hong Kong, but the studio itself remains an enigma to many in its homeland.
But then, Front defies easy categorisation. The studio creates industrial objects, but also doesn’t. It launches self-initiated research projects, although not always. It designs, but sometimes not – one of its early projects,
after all, delegated the task of crafting furniture to dogs, snakes and beetles. A collaboration between designers Anna Lindgren and Sofia Lagerkvist, Front* is a studio that dissects what design could be.
This formulation of design as a space for investigation, jubilation and provocation has not always sat comfortably within Sweden’s design tradition, although the studio’s work is acclaimed oversas. Front’s industrial design is produced by global brands such as Moroso, Vitra, Moooi and Kvadrat, as well as by world-class galleries including Friedman Benda and Galerie Kreo. Its self-initiated research projects, meanwhile,
are held in the permanent collections of museums such as MoMA, Centre Pompidou, the V&A, M+ and Vitra Design Museum. For 20 years, Front have been secret ambassadors for Swedish design abroad.
Yet rather than work within a national design tradition, Front has expanded its practice to ask broader questions about the discipline. Over its career, the studio’s work has varied dramatically in output, but is consistent in approach. Front champions the communicative power of objects, exploring what it means to be a designer today. How can design adapt to technological, environmental and social change, and what do objects tell us about the world around us?
This is the path that Front has taken, and which has sometimes led it far from home. In its Guest of Honour installation for the 2023 Stockholm Furniture Fair, Front is retracing these steps, exhibiting designs both past and present that reveal different facets of the way in which the studio thinks about and approaches the discipline. The exhibited projects reveal stories about where design has been and where it may be going. They represent pathways travelled, as well as hinting at those that remain, as yet, untaken.
Text: Oli Stratford
Photo: Andy Liffner & Erik Lefvander