FORM US WITH LOVE – Swedish product design agency
I had the chance to meet Riccardo PACCALONI, in Stockholm. Riccardo is the project manager of FORM US WITH LOVE (https://www.formuswithlove.se/). This studio was created in 2005 by Jonas PETTERSSON and John LÖFGREN. The studio is a mix between the process of traditional creative products and strategic applications. Today, they are based on three different area. Consultancy engaging in products, ranges, collaborations and spaces for clients around the world; Ventures which is disciplined and holistic approaches to launch and build brand; and Institution which is based on knowledge transfers and sharing of experiences, actively contributing to the broader spectra of design. They always imputed a bit of sustainability in their design but in 2015, they decided to act more toward sustainable design.
HOW DO THEY INPUT SUSTAINABILITY IN THE DESIGN?
As you already know now, there are five cornerstones in sustainable design; Produce locally, Use recyclable material or reused material, Produce a product that will last in the time, Create a product with the minimal amount of pieces or/and make it dismantle-able, and Work for the human. Riccardo added one which is the human behavior. It means people are always acting a certain way which you have to answer to reach the “good design” level.
When you design anything, you have to know how the people are going to react about the product. To do so, FORM US WITH LOVE created a list of the consumer behavior for when they are around furniture design. How do customer think? How do they act? What will they do with the product? Will the consumer act the same way if he is from France or Sweden? What does the consumer think about sustainability in this country / market?[…] Consumers never see and almost never realize the work that was done by the designer, but if the design is properly done, the consumer will fully enjoy the product without having to think about the process. The product will fulfill is function and will make the consumers life better.
When FORM US WITH LOVE design a product, they always try to be as sustainable as they can be. They have designers and engineers in the team. That way, they can combine the design with the manufacturing process and see all the possibility they have to design a better product. The fact that they have engineers in the team makes easier for them to design a sustainable product without having the problem of having too many changes when the product pass some engineer test. Also, the mix between designing and engineering is helpful in a design agency as it makes your work more precise and inspire trust. That way, the client can be more willing to manufacture a sustainable product. Nevertheless, the client isn’t all the time into it because it would mean that he should change the line production or invest money that he doesn’t have. We talk about this problem before and I will continue to talk about it. In fact, the reality is that most of the time the client is not willing to change everything. So the agency and the client need to compromise. This means changing the design or removing some pieces or even manufacture with a less sustainable material. The good thing is that most of the time, the client agrees to the compromise meaning that things are changing in the right direction. Small step after small step, we will succeed to create only sustainable product. Even if we need to change faster than we actually are.
FORM US WITH LOVE worked several time with IKEA. During the last three year, they created two sustainable projects, JANINGE and ODGER. ALKI is a chair that is fully made of reused plastic, without glue and make for all the IKEA restaurant. When FORM US WITH LOVE visited the manufacturer, they thanked them a lot because smelling glue was making them a bit “high” at the end of the day. I asked why designing with plastic was great and sustainable. In Sweden, they are really good to recycle some material such as the plastic, the glass and the wood. But they doesn’t recycle every plastic. They recycle 97% the plastic bottle and similar plastic. They even import this kind of plastic waste from other country to recycle it. If we talk about more technical plastic, it is another problem. It is really hard now a day to recycle technical plastic because of the chemical that we can find inside it. Riccardo taught me that IKEA is investing in recycling industries. And because this chair has been design to last a long time, in 5 years, most of the problem will be solved by IKEA or other recycling industries. Also, they could have use a more sustainable material like plastic coming from the ocean. But when they designed the chair, they realized that there was not enough ocean plastic available, so far, to create a huge amount of chair like IKEA needed.
IKEA is the bigger user of wood in the world. This means that they have some wood wastes. So how to change that, FORM US WITH LOVE decided to create a chair with this waste and mix it with some plastic, ODGER. Again, because IKEA is working to find solution to recycle their materials, they should find some solutions in the next 5 years to separate wood from plastic. This kind of initiative helps us to be freer on our design and to do sustainable project. The design of ODGER is sustainable because of the materials but also because it is dismantling. When FORM US WITH LOVE designed the chair, they decided to separate the siting part from the legs to gain place for the transport. Also, IKEA is worldwide known to create easy product to build by yourself. With this product, in 5 seconds, it is done. And if you break a leg of the chair, it is really easy to replace it. This make it even more sustainable.
Last example in which FORM US WITH LOVE had more flexibility is a sounds absorbent panel project for BAUX (https://www.baux.se/). The first panel that was created was made with wood, concrete and water. In a way, it is a good start but they knew they couldn’t separate the wood from the concrete when they had to recycle the panel. BAUX was willing to change how they were creating their sounds absorbent panel. That way, the team of FORM US WITH LOVE had more flexibility to test and redesign how BAUX will create the panels. With the help of materials researchers, time and a lot of different tries, they succeeded to realize a panel with is made only with paper. We didn’t talk in detail about how it was made but it is made with a reusable paper and a reusable glue.
Those example are good to show that some powerful companies like IKEA and smaller companies like BAUX are willing to change the way they were designing and manufacturing. But it is not always like that, teaching and explaining to companies what are the profits of being sustainable take some times and you will have to compromise most of the time when you will design.
I would like to thank Riccardo PACCALONI for the time he dedicated to me. It was interesting to discover more about how a design studio create, the reality of the job and how is it possible to bring sustainability in a design project. I invite you to go check their website: https://www.formuswithlove.se/