INTERVIEW TAF Studio x Odalisque

Written by Jahwanna Berglund

When two design geniuses put their heads together, the outcome resulted in a new timeless and functional at home classic.

TAF Studio was founded in 2002 by Gabriella Lenke and Mattias Ståhlbom after graduating from the Department of Interior Architecture and Furniture Design at Konstfack.Their design is recognized for its minimalist yet functional approach to design, creating pieces that blend simplicity with a touch of whimsy. They work across various disciplines, including interior design, product design, architecture, and furniture design.

The studio's portfolio boasts collaborations with numerous well-known brands like Muuto, Hay, Design House Stockholm, and now String Furniture. Their designs often showcase a balance between form and function, with an emphasis on clean lines, thoughtful details, and a Scandinavian aesthetic.

Their work has been exhibited internationally and has received several prestigious awards, cementing TAF Studio's position as a prominent design studio within the global design community. Throughout their journey, they've maintained a commitment to creating innovative, sustainable, and visually striking designs, leaving a mark on the world of contemporary design.

String Furniture is a Swedish design icon that emerged in the mid-20th century and has since become synonymous with Scandinavian design. It was created by Swedish architect and designer Nils Strinning and his wife, Kajsa Strinning.

The history of String furniture dates back to 1949 when Nils Strinning entered a design competition organized by Bonnier's Book Club. His submission was a shelving system that consisted of simple side panels and shelves supported by thin wires. This innovative design allowed for customization and flexibility, enabling users to adjust the shelves to their liking without the need for tools. The winning design, known as the “String System,” became an instant success and was launched into production by the manufacturer, String Furniture AB.

Over the years, String Furniture has maintained its timeless appeal and relevance in the design world. The original String System continues to be manufactured and sold, while the brand has introduced new variations, colors, and materials to adapt to contemporary design trends and technological advancements.

Nils and Kajsa Strinning's legacy lives on through the enduring popularity and influence of String furniture, which remains an emblem of functional and elegant Scandinavian design.

How did the collaboration between TAF Studio and String Furniture come about, considering both entities' rich design legacies?
We started our collaboration when designing a wall shelf for the Nationalmuseum of Stockholm. The Museum collection is since then available in the String Furniture range

What unique elements or insights did each partner bring to the table during the creation process?
It is of course a great pleasure working with a producer that has such specific knowledge when it comes to shelves and storage. String Furniture knows everything about wall shelves and we brought our knowledge as designers and interior architects when it comes to a free standing piece. Relief is designed to be as nice from the back as from the front to be able to position in the middle of room and double as a room divider.

TAF Studio is known for its minimalist yet functional approach, while String Furniture embodies timeless Scandinavian design. How did these philosophies converge in your collaborative project?
For us it is like working with a good friend – someone that you have a lot of things in common with. String Furniture works with a strong legacy and with their classics and we, even though it is very hard, try to achieve new things that can age as well and live as long as the classics. That meeting ends up in a natural dialogue on what we can do together.

Could you tell us about the specific design principles that guided the creation of this new furniture classic?
We think of the Relief as a basic background piece with a reduced expression. Almost like a podium under a sculpture. Something that can store and carry other objects rather than “objectify” itself.

String Furniture has a longstanding history, while TAF Studio represents a more contemporary design approach. How did you balance honouring the heritage of String Furniture while injecting modern elements into the new design?
Despite the reduced aesthetics we also believe that an object designed today needs to be a footprint from our time. We used modern and contemporary techniques in our design process, as does String Furniture when it comes to the actual production. We hope that gives a contemporary expression in a subtle way.

What were some of the key challenges faced during the design process, considering the rich legacy and expectations associated with both TAF Studio and String Furniture?
We have worked very much with the detailing and proportions in order to be able to transport the system in a more sustainable way/knock down and to store it in an efficient way. All the dimensions have their origin in an ambition to fit on a EU pallet. The true challenge was to make them also work for all the different functions when assembled.

Can you elaborate on any innovative techniques or materials used in the creation of this furniture piece?
We have looked at many new materials and techniques and made tryouts and mock-ups but found no advantages. In the end we have been using wood, mdf and cast aluminium.

How did you prioritise functionality without compromising on the aesthetic appeal of the furniture piece?
The visual appearance is very boxy and we have had pixels as a reference but there are a lot of hidden functionality. For example with all the fittings – there is an invisible connection bracket to connect more than one part. Under the squarish handle there is a soft curve that you do not see but feel when opening the drawers. A row of hooks in the same widths could also be added to take care of things you do not want to keep in the drawers.

Both TAF Studio and String Furniture have made significant impacts on the design world. How do you envision this collaboration contributing to your respective legacies?
We hope of course that the reception of the new collection will be good and used in a way that we were aiming for – a background piece focusing on storage, and help to create different spaces working as a room divider. A little bit like a white shirt in your wardrobe. A basic piece that can be used in many ways and context.

QUOTE: Bo Hellberg, Chief Marketing Officer at String Furniture

It’s always a joy to work with TAF Studio, we share many values.

Relief is an extremely well-thought-out system that fits in all rooms, and with its straightforward design enhances the expression in all environments, regardless of how it is combined and placed. The product has an exceptional high quality in manufacturing that many people notice. We have heard things like ’this is where my cashmere pullover should live’, which is tremendously rewarding”, says Bo Hellberg, Chief Marketing Officer at String Furniture.


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