Classy, comfortable & functional

The Norwegian furniture industry is continuing to make its mark far beyond Norwegian borders. Through a combination of traditional craftsmanship and innovative design and functionality, a wide number of companies are producing everything from dining furniture to sofas, from furniture for the health sector to recliners, the mark of quality and design are a natural part of these products. All told, close to 400 companies are working within the furniture sector here in the country.

One of the strengths of the industry is the strong support that it receives from organizations such as the Federation of Norwegian Industries, and this is having a positive effect. According to Egil Sundet, responsible for furniture activities within the organization, “We are finding that the international market is opening up more and more towards Norwegian furniture companies.” Through projects such as Insidenorway.no, buyers and end-consumers alike are discovering – or rediscovering – the comfort and aesthetic value of Norwegian furniture.

Many of these products and companies have been on the scene for decades. Take for example the legendarily popular 1972 classic Stokke Tripp-Trapp child’s chair, designed by Peter Opsvik. This Norwegian success story arose after Opsvik could not find a practical chair that would adjust to his son’s growth, and has resulted in over 6 million chairs sold all over the world, and sales increase every year. The bottom line is that looking for solutions through functional design is something that Norwegians do well in the furniture industry.

Varier - Peel.
© Varier


A Very Fine House
Household furniture is the main segment for Norwegian manufacturers. This area includes furniture for living rooms, such as sofas, chairs, tables, and furniture for children's rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, home offices, etc., mainly using materials such as upholstery, panel furniture or solid wood. The country’s reputation within upholstery is known far and wide, with Norwegian upholstery producers enjoying a place status among the best in the world.

There is a wide range of companies producing excellence quality within this furniture segment, including Ekornes ASA, the largest furniture manufacturer in Scandinavia with brand names that include Stressless, Svane and Ekornes. Ekornes’ production takes place in seven different factories in Norway with products being sold through its own sales network globally in chosen markets.

Other companies such as Lom Møbelindustri AS are inspired by the beauty of their surroundings – in the tallest mountains in Norway – while making a range of furniture that is a strong and durable, including sofas, chairs, dining room sets and other quality products. Talent and expertise from a wide range of companies such as Stordal, Hjellegjerde and Varier runs deep here in Norway.

Håg - Capisco.
© Håg
Fora Form - City of Copenhagen.
© Fora Form


Award Winners
Each year, the Norwegian Design Council presents a series of awards to designers and products with the goal of continuing to create an understanding of the importance of both the design process as well as the focus of the use of design as a tool in innovation. This fits well with the governmental initiative focused on innovation, with the first national white paper on innovation introduced in 2008. The goal is to continue to pave the way to continue to improve the already innovative spirit in this country.

If the 2008 design awards bestowed on furniture is any indication, there is much innovation already within this dynamic Norwegian industry. Winners have included the “Sting” chair designed by Arild Alnes and Helge Taraldsen and produced by Brunstad. The jury called this chair “the missing link in the world of loungers…this is a chair to be fond of, with timeless design since it includes elements from a variety of eras”.

The well-known success company Ekornes took home yet another “Merke for God Design” (Mark of Excellent Design) award with one of its line of Stressless recliners. The Stressless Jazz Medium is a continuation of the line of recliners introduced in 1971. The design jury was certain about the chair – both from a design as well as comfort perspective, “Jazz Medium sticks to the original tradition of Norwegian furniture-making, with honest material use and good functionality.” (See the separate article featuring Ekornes and the Norwegian Design Council’s Awards for Design Excellence.)

Classy, Durable & Environmental
Norwegian furniture companies within the area of office and contract furniture are numerous, and the office chair manufacturer Hag, from the Scandinavian Business Seating Group, has the mission "Make the world a better place to sit!" The group is engaged in development, production, marketing and sale of office seating solutions. Håg produces furniture that is environmentally friendly and labelled after the ISO 14001 EPD system. Some of the products are 100% recyclable. The office chair HÅG09 and the HÅG Capisco, together with the brand new HÅG Futu, represent modern design, ergonomic seating solutions together with comfort.

Stay Hov Møbelindustrier has been well known for excellent quality for over half a century. This company has a wide range of customers with brands in the office furniture business, and does major business with hotels and hotel chains, supplying a wide range of hotel furniture. In addition, Stay Hov Møbelindustrier is the only furniture manufacturer in Norway with an eco-label, known as Swan.

Savo is another Norwegian company that combines classy design with durability and user ability. The company designs, manufactures and markets office seating, recently strengthening its position within quality seating solutions with the launch of the Savo XO Conference chair. The Savo XO Conference Chair is a Norwegian chair that combines highly developed technical solutions with an appealing visual identity and exclusive design. It is a well known fact that surrounding affects creativity and productivity, and the XO Conference Chair does its part to make these surroundings a better place to be.

Design in Action
There are many additional Norwegian companies to take note of within the area of office furniture, including Håg, which is another fine example of design in action, with its Peter Opsvik-designed Conventio Wing chair having excellent ergonomics, giving any room a distinct identity with its convincing environmental profile. Another Håg chair, Sideways, is an award winner enjoying both design and commercial success.

The furniture manufacturer Fora Form is the company that has won most Design Awards in Norway, regardless of industry branch. Fora Form was founded in 1929 and is one of Scandinavia’s leading suppliers of chairs, seating groups and tables for the contract market.

Norwegian furniture is fashionable and comfortable, and companies such as Hødnebø, Ekornes and Fjord Fiesta use the right combination of design aesthetics and functionality. In addition to designer furniture, an important segment is office and contract furniture; with products supplied to workplaces, shops, public spaces and institutions often on demand from architects and developers. This includes office chairs, panel furniture, meeting and lobby chairs as well as artisan work.

 
Stokke – The TrippTrapp Chair.
© Stokke
 


Solid Tradition
The furniture company Aksel Hansson, located near Stavanger, produces a variety of chairs known as “Aksel, the chair from southwest Norway”. This design was first put into production in 1938 and since then has not only survived, but has thrived in a furniture world that sees styles come and go with the generations. Today, the “Aksel” is as popular as ever, available in a wide variety of tree-types and colours, with the seats made to order in leather, sea grass or textile.

LK Hjelle is another company with roots in tradition, producing classic designs, but at the same time producing the most modern furniture with the contemporary look, including the “Emma” sofa and the “Karl” chair. The company’s most famous sofa – the “Ugo” – and its newcomer, the “OK” are winning over followers everywhere. The bottom line is that the wide spectrum of Norwegian furniture is gaining attention on the international scene. The bottom line is that quality and creativity are being recognized. Norwegian furniture success lies in its tradition, dedication, creativity – and a solid national support network.

Support Where It Is Needed
The Association of Norwegian Furniture Industry is the member organization for the furniture industry in Norway. Furniture production is highly automated here in this country and a focus on the environment and sustainable development is important – at the same time that furniture produced has cutting-edge design, user-friendliness and durability. With a total yearly production value of NOK 11 billion, this branch is one of the shining examples of Norwegian productivity.

The Association of Norwegian Furniture Industry, besides the project insidenorway.no, also organize the Norwegian Furniture Industry Council (“Møbelrådet”), known as the furniture industry’s information office, working to increase public awareness and their interest in furniture, having the synergy effect of increasing sales of Norwegian-produced furniture. This organization was established in order to assist the industry in gaining a higher profile nationally and internationally with diverse groups, including the media – its most important target group.

The Norwegian Organization of Interior Architects and Furniture Designers represents its members in contributing to solid quality within areas such as project planning of public and private interior for new and old buildings, selection of colour and materials and management, leadership and advice within interior projects.

Insidenorway.no is an initiative focused on getting the word out about innovative, comfortable and functional Norwegian furniture by use of dynamic marketing, exhibitions, events and other communication channels. See the article in this issue that tells the story how Insidenorway.no is doing its part to market Norwegian furniture.

The world is indeed taking notice of Norwegian creativity and craftsmanship, and will continue to see it closely at a variety of exhibitions and presentations in 2009, both through Insidenorway.no activities as well as other initiatives.

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