September heralds the start of furniture fair season, and design fever is truly upon us. Wallpaper* marked the start of our circuit in Oslo, where the bi-annual Designers Saturday showcase unveiled the great and the good in Norwegian design.
Eschewing the staid exhibition centre format, the weekend event sees everything from furniture and lighting to textiles being launched in furniture stores and dedicated spaces dotted around the city. A healthy dose of canapes aside, the local design community's strong support and the vibrant edit of products on offer is helping to establish Designers Saturday as a launch pad for Norwegian designers wishing to break into the international market.
Call it a sign of the times, but this year Norwegian minds seemed to collectively gravitate towards the unlikely subject of prisons as a design focus. So much so that the honours for 'Best Interior' at the Oslo design awards went to a prison interior, while the top young designer's award went to a concept chair specifically designed so that it could be made and produced by prison inmates.
The efforts of the young designers' guild started by Simen Aarseth, Christoffer Angell and Øyvind Wyller of Angell Wyller Aarseth stood out most this year. Having already made an impact during Salone del Mobile's Satellite show back in April, the trio curated a powerful show entitled Oslo Designer Laug, made up of other like-minded designers and rising talents. Also notable, was LK Hjelle's new 'Ted'sofa, designed by Hallgeir Homstvedt, and a revised punchy red version of the 'Mono' slim sofa by Anderssen & Voll, also for LK Hjelle.
Meanwhile, fresh from his recent collaboration with furniture company Rybo, Andreas Engesvik revealed the fruits of his labour, re-issuing contemporary pared down versions of classic designs from Rybo's archives. Peter Opsvik also reworked a classic Rybo piece, bringing out a grey-toned version of his original 1985 Garden chair for the brand.
But, it wasn't all chair legs and wood finishes. Hot-footing it to different locations around the city provided a welcome excuse to check out the local architecture, such as the Opera house and the ever-changing construction of Renzo Piano's new Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art - a well-rounded experience that always keeps us coming back for more.