Most designers turn their nose up at chipboard, synthetic leather and fake marble. But Stockholm-based industrial design duo FOLKFORM like to challenge our pre-conceptions of what we consider valuable.
Their Bench in Three Types of Leather is a patchwork of real and faux, but you wouldn’t know to look at it. Their Marble Cabinet is a collage of doors combining Carrara marble with a laminate look-a-like more commonly used to make kitchen worktops; nearly everyone who sees the piece thinks the fake slabs are the genuine.
“We’re interested in the hierarchies that we bestow on materials,” says Anna Holmquist, who co-founded the studio with Chandra Ahlsell in 2005 after meeting at Konstfack College of Art, Craft and Design in Stockholm.
To build a product, Anna and Chandra work very closely with manufacturing processes. Their Masonite boards, for example, see them invade the chipboard production line to add an element of the hand. They scatter organic matter onto the wet composite boards, so once pressed, a series of “quick fossils” are formed.
The result is a series of mass produced one-offs that see value bestowed on the cheapest wood going. Mass customisation is a goal being pursued by many digital designers, but Folkform’s more craft-based approach demonstrates that we don’t need the latest technology to achieve this; in fact it is their primitive approach that gives their work its charm.