With a clear focus on the artistic and social value of handcrafted processes, Stoft Studio produces elegantly finished pieces brimming with personality.
Jenny Ekdahl (b. 1987), Joel Herslow (b. 1983), and Ola Nystedt (b. 1985) met while studying for an MFA in Industrial Design at the Lund School of Industrial Design in Sweden, graduating in 2012. They established Stoft Studio in Malmö in 2013, keen to strike a balance between traditional and industrial manufacturing processes. They expanded to a larger space in the same city in 2014. The studio’s name comes from a Swedish word for millions of small particles that constantly move and rearrange to generate new and surprising configurations. This idea playfully surfaces in the studio’s multi-narrative approach.
One aspect of Stoft’s output is to offer a counter-narrative to the necessity of reductive approaches in mass-produced processes, which has dominated furniture manufacturing for the last 100 years. The designs they devise offer and evoke different modes of creative collaboration, inviting the users to make their own aesthetic decisions. One straightforward example is Blank Table, which gives users the opportunity to insert their own forms of visual expression between the glass panels of a clear tabletop. A more abstracted strategy is employed in the award-winning design of Dear Disaster, a wooden cabinet that features on its door a moveable interface of more than 800 wooden parts that can be individually or collectively flipped, in accordance with the wishes of the user. Resembling a traditionally crafted interactive children’s toy, the piece invites the users to create their own artistic imprint.
The intersection between environmental forces and human endeavor is evoked throughout Stoft’s work, and the results emphasize, rather than obscure, the possibilities found there. Leech Lamp (2018) emerges from the idea of symbiosis, and the shape of its bulb derives directly from the hand-blown processes used to make it—each one is unique. The piece is designed to be versatile, depending on the requirements of the user; it can be wall-mounted, suspended from a ceiling, or positioned on a surface. The studio’s Minor Flaws series (2016), meanwhile, draws attention to the careful craft of handmade glassmaking by enhancing qualities traditionally viewed as flaws. The resultant, bulbous forms, named after pinecones, acorns, and chestnuts, have a gentle, organic appearance far removed from the mass-produced glassware commonly available in the world today. Whittle Away Cabinet was commissioned for the exhibition What’s Your DNA?, presented during Dutch Design Week 2017, and is another example of Stoft’s mission to interrogate minimalist, global mass-production of furniture and reveal the social benefits of a more personal, hand-crafted approach.
Stoft has exhibited at a number of exhibitions, institutions, and fairs, including Nationalmuseum Stockholm, Winzavod Centre for Contemporary Art Moscow, and the London Design Fair, and has been receiving awards and grants since its inception. These include the 2013 Young Swedish Design Award, the 2013 Plaza Design Award for “Rookie of the Year,” and the 2018 Designer of the Year by RUM Design Awards. Stoft’s Biophilia was acquired by Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin (the Museum of Decorative Arts) for their permanent collection in 2017.