The Stockholm Furniture Fair (SFF) bills itself as the “world’s largest meeting place for Scandinavian design,” a platform created to bring architects, designers, and interior decorators directly in contact with buyers and design fans from around the world. Variations of the furniture fair have been around since 1950, but two years ago Hanna Nova Beatrice, founder of Swedish design and interiors magazine The New Era, became its new director, guiding the SFF through a much-needed post-pandemic boost.

A key mission for Nova Beatrice was to make the fairground, located ten minutes outside of central Stockholm, not only a place of trade (“promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive design”), but also culture, a meeting place where local talent and international names converge and converse. This year’s theme centered on community spirit, and PIN–UP was invited to kick off a five-day series of talks, setting the tone for a fair that sits neatly and a bit stubbornly between the maddening hustle of Milan’s Salone del Mobile and the more city-festival formats of London or Copenhagen.

The PIN–UP Conversations, led by PIN–UP’s Felix Burrichter and writer and curator James Taylor-Foster (ArkDes), were centered on the themes of “Softness” and “Strictness” — interesting textures to bring into play with the fair’s general theme. Formafantasma, the design studio founded by Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi, were the guests of honor at SFF. Wrapped in the softest pink felt, their Reading Room greeted guests at the fair’s entrance, allowing them to read, reflect, and immerse themselves in the ideas that have shaped Formafantasma’s work. Trimarchi, the first guest of the PIN–UP Conversations, discussed their practice as a studio, balancing design, consulting, and research.

Patricia Urquiola, the Spanish-born design powerhouse, was the second keynote speaker and enraptured the audience with a presentation that felt unadulteratedly chaotic. Making a case for a heartstrong rather than headstrong practice, the architect and designer discussed how to approach design by balancing one’s ideas with the industry’s entrenched systems. After the one-hour affair, enthusiastic fans made a beeline towards the stage in the fair’s theater lounge (designed by Färg & Blanche) for autographs and selfies with the charismatic designer. Bethan Laura Wood, the third keynote speaker, walked her fascinated Stockholm audience through her personal material obsessions — from borosilicate glass to wood inlay, ceramics to textiles. Taking the general theme of “Softness” to further investigate design in its broadest sense, Burrichter and Taylor-Foster also brought together another group of designers and creatives that included Bengt Thornefors, founder of bedding company Magniberg and creative director of Sahco, Cristina Poelk, art director of Swedish design brand Hem, and the textile architect Akane Moriyama. “Strictness,” the following day’s panel, included the artist, organizer, and interior designer Marcia Harvey Isaksson, creative director Fredrik Öst, and Francesco Zorzi, architect, designer, and co-founder Milan-based design brand NM3. Together with Burrichter and Taylor-Foster the group discussed the meaning of design under the strictures of an institutional space, how the field can be reimagined for a new paradigm of constrictive tastes and distribution, and whether rigorous design approaches are relevant in 2024.

Check out the SFF website for the full talks program, including Carsten Höller, Faye Toogood, Sam Hecht and Kim Colin of Industrial Facility, and many more.