Since last year’s Salone del Mobile, Swedish lighting manufacturer Zero has joined with Blå Station to open a showroom in Milan, the Italian design Mecca and host city to iSaloni each April. The two brands debuted the space at Via Osti, 3, last November, and I caught up with Zero’s CEO and Export Manager Per Gill to ask him about the company’s decision to have a presence in this important design destination.
Swedish Design in Milan
Here’s what he told me about the move:
“Zero has been participating in Euroluce since 2007 with great success, not just in Italy but the world over, so we felt having a showroom in Milan would strengthen the Zero brand further, both in Italy and internationally. Milan represents such a good ‘stage’ for international branding so when an opportunity arose to open a showroom with the furniture company Blå Station in the heart of the city, we jumped at the chance.
“We’ve known the owners of Blå Station since we were teenagers—their father, Börge Lindau, was Zero’s first designer. We also share showrooms with the company in Stockholm and Oslo so it made the offer even more attractive. We find that Zero has a new and different design approach to products when compared with the big Italian brands, and we believe we will be able to come into the Italian market in a good way by having a presence in this showroom.”
I’ve followed Zero’s product releases for the past several years as I’ve worked with my client Global Lighting to market their lighting fixtures in North America, and I’ve been impressed with the mix of style and engineering the brand has so successfully set as a standard. It has made their fixtures wildly popular with design-centric Americans in quite a short span of time, especially with architects and LEED-conscious designers and engineers. This is because Zero’s products are manufactured by a highly skilled workforce in Sweden with sustainability in mind.
The Scandinavian Hallmark for Quality
Blå Station’s furnishings are, too; and both manufacturers’ products share the aesthetic bent of being decidedly modern. The two companies make an art form of exploring newly engineered solutions for furniture and lighting design. Case in point is Luca Nichetto’s Loos pendant for Zero, inspired by many-windowed modernist facades and Scottish tartans, and the company’s ethereal Fog pendant by Front design studio.
With products like Stefan Borselius’s iconic Oppo, an upholstered swiveling lounge chair with its peanut-shaped ottoman that could easily morph into a character shape for an animated film, Blå Station has become known for a fresh approach to upholstery. The company’s stackable Dent chair, designed by Jon Lindström and Henrik Kjellberg, is made of a compression-molded ash seat sitting atop lacquered steel or chrome legs, the wood glued in layers to achieve a crimped form that defies the norm for such all-purpose seating. I love how the seats in tan look like crinkled pieces of baked Phyllo dough!
Zero will be debuting new products during Euroluce (in Hall 13/Stand C01), and I’ll be posting either here or on Global Trends after I return from Milan so stay tuned. Per reports the company is launching a number of new collections by Cate & Nelson, Fredrik Mattson, Note Design Studio, and Johanna Jacobson Backman that I look forward to seeing when I land in Milan tomorrow. The sound panels with built-in LED lights by Johanna, a third-year student at the design university in Nybro, sound seriously intriguing, as do all of the company’s new offerings. I’ll Instagram images when I see them all in person.
Adding Scandinavian Touches to Your Decor
To help my American audience emulate Scandinavian and mid-century modern style in your interiors, Design Within Reach is a standout source for furniture. I’m giving you links to a selection of seating that has a similar feel to some of the Swedish chairs and sofas in this post. Harry Bertoia is a lauded name in design and this Bertoia Bird Ottoman at DWR has a nice rise in the back to make it super comfortable with a cushion on the wire frame.
The Case Study Daybed from DWR has the same kicky feel as the minimalist designs made by Blå Station. And who can go wrong with Marcel Breuer? The Wassily Chair has been a Design Within Reach favorite for decades.
Text of Blå, Blå Brilliance: Zero Lighting in Milan © Saxon Henry, all rights reserved. Saxon Henry is an author, poet and journalist based in New York City. Books include Anywhere But Here and Stranded on the Road to Promise. She also produces The Diary of an Improvateur and is a columnist on Architizer.