The Norwegian furniture industry is thriving. With more than 400 companies 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. The international environment has known for a long time that the Norwegians provide nothing less than the best when producing furniture either for use in Norway or for the export market.
The Association of Norwegian Furniture Manufacturers (NFM) is the member organization for the furniture industry in Norway, and is a branch organization of Norsk Industri. Furniture production is highly automated here, and a focus on the environment and sustainable development is important – at that same time that the furniture produced is on the cutting-edge in terms of design, user-friendliness and durability. With a total yearly production value of NOK 10 billion, this branch is one of the shining examples of Norwegian productivity.
According to CEO Egil Sundet of the NFM, “Typically our member companies are in the small to medium range, with a number of large companies. Norwegian Furniture Manufacturers work with our members in order to expand different channels of distribution such as buying groups, shop chains, individual furniture retailers, furnishing projects, agents, franchise, and of course, Internet sales. We are finding that the international market is opening up more and more to Norwegian furniture companies.”
Working closely together with Norwegian Furniture Manufacturers is 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.
Covering the Entire Spectrum
The Norwegian furniture industry covers the entire spectrum of furniture making, and the recently opened NFM website www.insidenorway.no provides an excellent overview. These examples include companies that specialize in bathrooms and bathroom furniture, beds, bookcases and shelves, and children’s furniture, including the legendarily popular (6 million sold!) 1972 classic Stokke Tripp-Trapp child’s chair, designed by Peter Opsvik after he could not find a practical chair that would adjust to his son’s growth. Other areas of expertise include outdoor furniture, sofas, beds and office furniture – an area of the Norwegian furniture industry making great marks internationally.
Norwegian furniture companies within this area of office and contract furniture are numerous, and include Stay Hov Møbelindustrier, well known for excellent quality for over half a century. This company has a wide range of customer 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 Mobelindustrier is the only furniture manufacturer in Norway with an eco-label, known as Swan.
Savo combines highly technical solutions a unique visual identity and exclusive design.
Classy & Durable Office Furniture
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. "A Swedish survey shows that the aesthetics of our surroundings influences our productivity. I am positive that XOs in the board room will result in better board meetings," observes Ervin Kohn, Savo CEO.
There are many additional Norwegian companies to take note of within the area of office furniture, including Håg, 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. In addition, the Håg chair Sideways recently won the Prima Design Award in London for most inspiring design.
Norwegian Furniture Meets the World
The world is taking notice of Norwegian furniture, an excellent example of this being the one-month exhibition, "Norway Now! Furniture and Lamps", staged in autumn 2007 in the pan-Nordic house of the Nordic Embassies in Berlin This event provided the opportunity for central Europe to get a better look at Norwegian furniture and lamp design, ranging from classic designs to the most modern and funky creations on the market. Other established furniture producers such as Håg, Variér, L.K.Hjelle and others were on hand, as well as emerging designers Svein Petter Knudsen, Vidar Laksfors and Atle Tveit. Norway was also well represented at the 2008 International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City with Fora Form, Aksel Hansson, Varier and Mokasser representing the talents of the Norwegian furniture industry.
With a focus on design, the project www.insidenorway.no shows the best pieces of Norwegian Designer Furniture since the 1950s (Scandinavian Design Era) up till the strong wave of today. 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, the 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.
Household furniture is the main segment for Norwegian manufacturers. The segment consists of furniture for living rooms, such as sofas, chairs, tables, and furniture for children's rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, home offices, etc. The furniture is mainly upholstery, panel furniture or solid wood. Norwegian upholstery producers are among the best in the world. There is a wide range of companies producing excellence quality, including Ekornes ASA, the largest furniture in Scandinavia with brand names that include Stressless, Svane og 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 the companies such Stordal, Hjellegjerde and Varier runs deep here in Norway.
The Stressless®-factory at Ikornnes in Sykkylven, one of the seven Ekornes factories in Norway.
Tradition Runs Deep
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 a 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.
Aksel, “the chair from Southwest Norway” has been in production for 70 years.
© Aksel Hansson
According to Aksel’s Lise Hansson, “One reason that the Aksel chair has maintained its popularity through the years is as the result of the quality and professional work that has gone into this handmade product – and that we really care about how our customers will experience our products.”
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 their newcomer, the “OK” are winning over followers everywhere.
The Norwegian furniture industry offers more than fine design, comfort and durability. Companies such as Brekke Industrier is widely known as the largest producer of flexible polyurethane foam in the Nordic and Baltic regions, with a product assortment spanning a range of applications as both a supplier to industry and a supplier of foam mattresses to the retail trade. 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.