Enduring love for Swedish glass design

8 January 2021

With a rich heritage and a long-standing history within Scandinavian design, SCC member Orrefors Kosta Boda is making a mark in the UK. “The British have an enduring love for the Scandinavian design style, it’s simplicity and functionality,” David Carlsson, Creative Director at Orrefors Kosta Boda, says. The Link met with David to discuss how Swedish design is perceived in the UK, the history behind Orrefors Kosta Boda and what they have in store for the future.

The Swedish company Orrefors Kosta Boda AB consists of the two glass brands Orrefors, founded in 1898, and Kosta Boda with a history going all the way back to 1742. “Back in the 50s and 60s, the Orrefors brand was one of the world’s most famous glass producers. The clarity of the crystal glass was outstanding and some of our products from that period sell at high prices at international auction houses,” David says.

Inspired by the past with the future in mind
According to David, both Orrefors and Kosta Boda have elements which can be seen as classic Swedish designs, even if they differ from each other. “Both of the brands carry elements of what can be seen as typically Swedish design. Orrefors has for more than 120 years been rooted in a Swedish design tradition that is characterised by timeless aesthetics, functionality, craftsmanship and sustainable quality. Kosta Boda, on the other hand, looks back into its rich archive bringing the history of Boda of the 60s, with Signe Persson-Melin, Erik Höglund and many other designers as inspiration – inspired by the past but with the present and the future in mind.”

Pushing the boundaries of contemporary glass
When creating Orrefors products the shape and material are essential. “The material and the shape are in focus, with elegance, simplicity and confidence,” David says and points out that Orrefors steer more towards the premium segment. “Orrefors offers products in the premium segment, designed by well-known designers for an international audience with an interest in Scandinavian design.” Unlike the Orrefors design, the collections of Kosta Boda entails a more contemporary design. “The collection of Kosta Boda steers more towards lifestyle, with expressions that capture the spirit of the times, with well-designed and functional accessories and interior design pieces with high integrity. Our designers are famous for their artistry and ability to surprise and continue to develop unique techniques in glass design,” David says and adds: “Both Orrefors and Kosta Boda strive to constantly push the boundaries of contemporary glass, manage and develop our living history and work within the tradition of Swedish design.”

The value of Scandinavian designs
The Orrefors and Kosta Boda’s designs have been very welcomed abroad, and especially at the UK market. “The British have an enduring love for the Scandinavian design style, it’s simplicity and functionality. Craftsmanship is another commonly highly valued element which is also an essential part of both of our brands,” says David.

Designing for British Airways
Orrefors entered the UK market in the 1930’s, with Kosta Boda following a bit later in the 1950’s. David points out two collaborations Orrefors and Kosta Boda have been involved in since then: “One of the highlights in the British market was a glassware collection designed by Karl Lagerfeld for Orrefors, launched at Harrods in 2011. Also, the Kosta Boda designer, Ulrica Hydman Vallien, did a collaboration with British Airways in which Ulrica was one of fifty international artists invited by British Airways to decorate their fleet of aircraft.”

New UK collaborations coming up
The ability to adapt to and understand market trends and new customers are upcoming challenges for both Orrefors and Kosta Boda. “We are working on constantly developing our distribution to be able to meet new consumer groups where they shop and get inspired. One important segment we are aiming at are design and interior stores.” David says. Orrefors Kosta Boda is continuously releasing new products to quench the Brits’ appetite for Swedish design. “We are continuing to present and market our brands and product offers to the UK consumers with new releases twice a year,” David says and reveals an upcoming project, “We have started collaborations with two high profile UK designers and are immensely looking forward to introducing their products to the UK market and beyond in the coming years.”


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