Dressing the rooms of Sweden’s public sector
TEXT: EMMA RÖDIN | PHOTOS © TIM ALPEN
Starting off in 1957, Swedish furniture brand Balzar Beskow have come a long way since. By creating durable wooden furniture through collaborations with leading designers who value true craftsmanship, the brand has established itself as a family owned business that takes responsibility for the environment while also representing exceptional Swedish furniture design.
In a humble factory in the small town of Järvso, Balzar Beskow began their journey by creating furniture especially designed for school environments. In 1960, at a time when cities were growing rapidly, designer Axel Larsson’s today iconic chair S-312 was produced for Balzar Beskow in the hundreds of thousands to cater for the high demand from communal dining halls, classrooms and churches. Still being produced today, S-312 proved a hit to last and cemented Balzar Beskow as a competitor to be reckoned with. “S-312 is simple and durable and works in a wide number of contexts. No wonder it remained the main pillar of our product range for such a long period of time,” says the brand’s CEO Raoul Olsson.
Continuing down the route of the public sector, creating furniture such as chairs, sofas and tables for schools as well as hospitals, the brand has also made a name for itself in terms of creating furniture suitable for auditoriums. Chairs and tables signed Balzar Beskow can today be found in most Swedish universities where students face their strenuous exams, with the talented designer Tim Alpen being the mastermind behind these.
Partnering with likeminded designers
Balzar Beskow have, since the very beginning, only worked with a small selection of independent designers who have their roots in craftsmanship and tradition and who design with sustainability in mind. Alpen, as mentioned, is part of this chosen group and has designed a range of furniture for the company. He is known for his way of incorporating simplicity and clarity into his designs and finding the true essence within his projects. One product to demonstrate all of this is his 2017 Prima bench. “Prima is a new piece that has that apparent simplicity to it. All there is, is a slight angle that cleverly runs through the entire shape and yet this is what gives the construction its strength. It utterly transforms it,” says Olsson.
Another designer who continuously creates for the brand is Sammi Kallio, responsible for popular items like the Balzar Beskow building chairs – a series of acoustic chairs made with upholstered elements that are stacked, cleverly allowing for different configurations from the same components. Kallio can also take pride in his GBG chair which is named after his hometown Gothenburg and is exciting to look at from any angle. Not to forget the Block chair, a smart looking creation with a generously proportioned back and seat for optimal comfort. All created in line with Balzar Beskow’s stern views on endurance.
Being strong believers that sustainability and quality must go hand in hand, the choice of material is central in the Balzar Beskow product line. “Durability has always been a key word when we make furniture. If we can make the furniture last for the many years that our customers wish to use it, then we will have used the materials and resources well,” says Olsson. This sets high standards for the designs, particularly for the materials and techniques that are used, so that the furniture can be renovated and finally recycled. This is the reason wood makes the ideal base, thanks to its strong composition and the many ways it is possible to work with it.
Other than focusing on materials, Balzar Beskow put a lot of emphasis on working towards the guidelines of ISO 14001, the international standard that specifies requirements for an effective environmental management system (EMS). Furthermore, it provides a framework that an organisation can follow rather than establishing environmental performance requirements. “I believe knowledge and curiosity are needed in the manufacturing process to enhance and decrease the use of resources, which makes us proud to be ISO 14001 certified since the autumn of 2011,” says Olsson. Additionally, the company has recently started the process to brand parts of their line with ‘Möbelfakta’. This is a Scandinavian environmental certificate which is awarded to products that have been tested for safety and durability and have the least impact on the environment as well as being produced with social responsibility.
Balzar Beskow are dedicated to continuing the spread of Swedish design and are helping doing so by annually showcasing at Stockholm’s Furniture Fair, which takes place in February each year. Whatever is next for Balzar Beskow, we can expect well designed and durable wooden furniture to continue to be synonymous with the brand.