The Scandinavian design aesthetic — with its clean lines, neutral colour palette, and functional luxury — has been in vogue for a while. Well-heeled Indian travellers who have been holidaying in Copenhagen and Stockholm are returning to give their homes a ‘Scandi makeover’. As tastes mature (and disposable incomes rise), Nordic countries have started to take notice. A few brands have forayed into India, like Danish luxury furniture maker BoConcept that made its debut in Delhi in 2016 (following it up with a store in Mumbai in 2017). Copenhagen-based home décor brand Muuto came to India in 2017 through a partner franchise in Mumbai.
Sweden, on the other hand, has been around for some time, with brands like Volvo, H&M, and recently, IKEA (which opened in Hyderabad to heaving crowds that brought traffic to a standstill). Next week, the Scandinavian nation is going one step further with Swedish Style, a two-day lifestyle event in Mumbai to showcase different aspects of the country’s creative industries. Referring to key names from fashion, design, architecture, film, technology and gastronomy in attendance, Ulrika Sundberg, Consul General of Sweden to Mumbai, calls it a “curated experience for networking”.
And for people stopping by, it offers a slice of the Scandinavian country. “We are trying to provide the full-fledged experience of Sweden when they step in,” explains Sundberg.
She proudly narrates how participants at the first edition of the event — held in Tokyo — celebrated the 20th jubilee this year. They continue to collaborate on design, architecture and other projects, she says, adding that she hopes for a similar kind of creative matchmaking in India. The Mumbai event, then, is just an introduction.
We speak with some of the participants for a sneak peek.
On the Swedish map
Why Mumbai? “Because I think the time has come for India,” says Sundberg. “I have been in India now for three years and I see that there’s a very good perception of Sweden in general, but it is a little bit old.” Sundberg believes the time is ripe for a multi-level event that will update this perception. “It would also give the opportunity to put India on the Swedish map,” she adds.
You can expect discussions on democratic design, gender, functionality and circular economy challenges, among others. “We are unique in the sense that we are trying to combine all kinds of creative industries in one space,” elaborates Sundberg.
More than 20 companies and brands — ranging from well-known names like IKEA and H&M, to traditional companies like Volvo to start-ups like Airinum and Ride CAKE — will be in attendance. Several Swedish artists, including Mamma Andersson and Anna Hamner will exhibit their art, as will renowned photographers Julia Hetta and Frederik Lieberath.
Sundberg hopes that the Mumbai edition will be the starting point for a relationship between creatives and entrepreneurs from India and Sweden. “I’m very much looking forward to seeing what happens 10 or 20 years down the road,” she adds.
Two of the event’s main themes are sustainability and solutions to climate change problems, and the choice of exhibitors reflects that. There is Ride CAKE, a high-performance, off-road electric motorbike that weighs half of what a combustion engine equivalent would. “CAKE’s mission is to inspire the market and accelerate the journey towards zero emission by combining responsibility with excitement,” shares founder and CEO Stefan Ytterborn. All components — including the frame, wheels and suspension — are manufactured in-house. With several design awards (like the Red Dot Design Award 2019) under its belt, CAKE also hopes to bring the e-bike to India.
Then there is Front Design, a Stockholm-based studio offering furniture and lighting solutions. “Front is pushing the boundaries of what is design, while still keeping functionality at the centre,” says Sundberg. “They try to come up with something that you won’t throw away in a year or two.”
With air pollution now a concern for India, Airinum’s fashionable collection of urban air masks and health accessories is likely to attract attention. Bringing the product to India is on the cards, says CEO and co-founder Alexander Hjertström. “In fact, we have already started selling our products on Amazon India.”
Green is the new black
Swedish Style will also provide a platform for various panel discussions, including one on the future of fashion and sustainability within the industry. It will feature designer Malin Andrén of By Malina, stylist Ekta Rajani, H&M’s Sustainability Manager Komal Arora, and others, moderated by fashion curator Gautam Vazirani.
On display at the event will be Renewcall, a start-up that developed the technology to turn used cotton and viscose into biodegradable pulp, which can then be converted into yarn. “India is the fashion market of the future, and what happens here will decide if fashion can ever become sustainable,” says the company’s head of communication, Harald Cavalli-Björkman.
Even the big brands are on board. This includes H&M’s decade-long initiative of generating at least 50% recyclable clothing, as well as its offer to customers to exchange old clothes over the counter (a service available in India as well). Other Swedish fashion brands on display include Eytys and House of Dagmar. “You will see a little bit of our classic, clean features,” promises Sundberg.
More than meatballs
For the more gastronomically inclined, Michelin-starred chef Marco Baudone will be in attendance with a vegetarian-friendly spread. “We have so much more to offer than meatballs,” Sundberg jokes. “I’m trying to widen the horizon. This could also be another area where we could have nice fusion — perhaps we put a pinch of coriander into our food,” she laughs.
Swedish Style will be held on June 4 and 5 at Studio 9, Famous Studios, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai. Register at swedish-style.com