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Interview with John Löfgren of Form Us With Love: „The borders are blurring.“

The team of Form Us With Love, with founders John Löfgren (left) and Jonas Pettersson (right)
Photo: Jonas Lindström

The young designers of Form Us With Love, Stockholm, know where they come from. But more important: they know where they are headed. And that circumstances for a new generation are different from those for the big Scandinavian designers decades ago. A conversation with co-founder John Löfgren about tradition, new lifestyles, and imm cologne as a business spot.

Mr Löfgren, as a young, internationally active design studio from Sweden, do you feel influenced by a Scandinavian tradition?
If you ask if we are actively relating to this tradition, I would say no. But we are aware of where we come from and what we benefit from. Generalizing Scandinavian design, one probably thinks of characteristics like rational, clean, lacking decoration. And I think that is always good to have as a backbone in our design. But being a designer today, and being from Scandinavia today, is something completely different than in the 50s or so. In our period of globalization everybody sees the same things. Our approach is very different to that of some other studios in Stockholm, while on the other hand, some designers from other countries could as well be mistaken as ‘Scandinavian’ in this sense. There are no borders like there were before.

Form Us With Love: Absolut Atelier for Absolut Vodka, Stockholm/Sweden
Photo: Jonas Lindström

How would you describe your approach?
We are not artists. I think it depends on how you grew up and what kind of toys you were using and what kind of education you had. We had an education in the middle of the forest of Småland, where IKEA has their headquarters. It was all about how you could make something with a practical twist, with as few means as possible – how you can deal with few resources, but be smart with them.

How important is research in the field of materials?
It is really a key aspect for us. A lot of ideas are based on materials, those that exist and those that don’t. That is where we come from – a bit the ‘form follows function’-ideal. How can you use a specific material, what happens in another context? And of course, today everybody is working on how you can replace certain materials by more eco-based ones. I think that is a key interest of all of us.

Form Us With Love: Unfold Lamp for Muuto
Photo: Jonas Lindström

You work on product as well as interior design, including the Contract Business sector with for example retail interiors. Today, formerly separated aspects of life, like living, working and leisure, are more and more intermingling. Do these changes influence your work?
First of all I would say that all our projects are in a way grounded. Sometimes they are very new, but there is always something that you can recognize – the material or the idea or the setting. You shouldn’t be too innovative in one step. At the same time, we are living in a superinteresting era. One dominant aspect today is what kind of technology you use and how you use it. So yes, those changes are definitely reflected in our work. Let’s take a small example, our ‘Plug Lamp’ that integrates a socket. We tried to make an icon of how you use all these technical gadgets today. If you use a laptop or a smartphone a lot, light is important – and electricity. Rather than where exactly you are using them.

Form Us With Love: Kostbar, Stockholm/Sweden
Photo: Jonas Lindström

So it’s more about the options than about the specific function of a space. For a table, you would not so much define it as a ‘work table’ or a ‘dining table’ but rather see how you can use it in general?
Exactly – if we have the possibility to do so. Sometimes the brief is very specific, and of course we respect that. But we are really not looking for boundaries. We see a design as an open thing. The borders between work, living, leisure are definitely blurring, and the products are evolving in that direction. Another aspect is that, increasingly, even the most technical companies are looking for something more cozy. We move away from the tech-kind of feeling towards a more homey feeling, and more genuine materials.

Form Us With Love: Nest Collection for +Halle
Photo: Jonas Lindström

You have collaborated with renowned companies that are regularly present at imm cologne, like Cappellini or Muuto. How important is imm cologne for you as designers, in terms of business, inspiration, informal exchange?
imm cologne is for real. What I mean is: people really do business here. I also hear from others that they appreciate that very much. Another aspect is of course the fair as a meeting place. You can’t beat that. Meeting face to face: you will never be able to top that with any kind of digital means.

Form Us With Love is a Stockholm-based studio run by co-founders Jonas Pettersson and John Löfgren. Apart from interiors, fair stands and product design for international companies they work on branding strategies and act as researchers and curators.