I’m slow: Massproductions calls for a change of pace
at Stockholm Design Week
Stockholm-based furniture company Massproductions is took a stand against today’s fast-paced obsession with novelty and growth with a brand positioning encapsulated in the words: ‘I’m slow’ and an installation at Stockholm Design Week comprising a bell tent and central ‘fireplace’ that provides space for tranquility and relaxation.
On Wednesday 05 February, while embracing the dynamism of the city during the busiest week of the design calendar with an explosive club night, Massproductions also offered a place to slow down and take stock. An oversized bell tent, with newest product release Roadie encircling a ‘fireplace’ at its heart, provided time and space for visitors to the Stockholm Design Week to step off the treadmill of the typical design fair experience. From tactile surfaces to a bespoke scent, every one of the five senses has been carefully catered for to enable a mindful moment of reflection, evocative of nights under starry skies.
‘We hope this approach might encourage visitors to slow down and think twice before acting on their first “I want this” instinct – and perhaps even inspire some of our colleagues in the industry,’ says Massproductions co-founder Magnus Elebäck. ‘It’s time to make smarter choices and think more carefully about why we consume the way we do. If we slow down, we will have the time to make sure we buy products with a long-lasting value, in terms of quality, design or even the resale value. The slow movement is here.’
‘We need to produce fewer things, and better things,’ echoes Massproductions cofounder and designer-in-chief Chris Martin. ‘That’s where we should be heading for environmental reasons. Furniture should have a long life for the customer – and that means investing more time before bringing it to market.’
With a name like Massproductions, this approach might seem counterintuitive. When craft theorist David Pye defined craft as the workmanship of risk, he argued that the maker’s ‘judgment, dexterity and care’ are exercised throughout the making process. But he contrasted this with mass production and the workmanship of certainty in which the ‘judgment, dexterity and care’ are deployed before making begins – and that takes time. It is time Massproductions is happy to invest.
‘We are in no rush,’ says Martin. ‘Of course, we have deadlines and we keep our customers happy by delivering on time, but when it comes to developing ideas, it is better to be slow.’
True to his word, Martin often holds on to ideas, developing them slowly over years, even decades and only releasing them when they are absolutely ready. ‘If an idea can stay with me for 20 years, the end-result should last a lifetime,’ he explains. Massproductions is very careful about what it puts into production, always asking what contribution the piece is making and whether it is built to last. Remaining true to these principles requires a certain set-up: to break-free from sales and PR-driven product launch cycles, Elebäck and Martin assumed control of the entire production chain when they established Massproductions in 2009 and haven’t looked back since. Without being tied to one factory, they invest time in research and relationships to ensure the best fit for every product, whether that is the latest technical innovation, quality materials or sustainable practices. The approach has paid off with Möbelfakta certification for quality and sustainability, 700 Odette bar stools in use 24/7 at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport with only two repairs in five years, and a glut of distinguished awards, renowned clients and representation in the permanent collection of the Swedish National Museum of Arts.