Formex’s Guest Influencer August 20-23 is none other than Lidewij “Li” Edelkoort – one of the design world’s most respected trend experts. Li has previously attended Formex as a trend lecturer, but this time, together with Philip Fimmano, the art director at Edelkoort Inc., she will create a unique inspiration exhibition in Stockholmsmässan’s Entrance Hall – the largest exhibition in Formex’s history in terms of floor area.
Li Edelkoort’s exhibition focuses on an object’s inherent energy, and is inspirerd by animism – the belief that even inanimate objects could have a soul. We asked Li to tell us a little bit about her exhibition, her opinion about Formex as a design fair, and how today’s Scandinavian design stand in an international comparison.
Tell us about the theme for the exhibition you are creating for Formex! What will the visitors experience?
– Our exhibition will be an almost spiritual experience at the fair entrance, serving as a guide to another way of shopping. By giving a strong focus on the emotional values of goods and materials we hope to convey the beauty and energy found in everyday objects. We will bring together the exhibitors’ designs with respect and intend them to be contemplated in a calm and soothing environment. As if encountering them for the very first time.
How do you explain the concept of “animism”? Can you give an example of what animism is to you?
– Because the overall focus at Formex this year is on materials we want to explore the philosophy of new materialism, a current strain in philosophy which analyses the power of all matter, believes that all materials are alive and have a proper existence, just like animals and us humans. The idea that we are all sentient beings connected in a natural way brings the idea of animism to the fore, revisiting the earliest and most primitive rituals before religion; the veneration of the forest and the feather, the river and the rock, the shadow and the stick. Even clouds and words could become objects of devotion.
Does the exhibition have any kind of message?
– Apart from highlighting the most serene and thoughtful products from the fair, we hope to install another and new respect for materials and forms, taking time to actually see them, giving space to unique but everyday objects that deserve to be venerated in their own right. The beauty of a handmade spoon, the strength of a wrought iron skillet, the fragrance of a candle and the tactility of a kitchen textile are all reconsidered and singled out, so as to give them new life in our own lives, becoming companions.
– We hope to bring a new voice to the fair and another way of selecting merchandise for the public at large, making the client the curator of their own environment, carefully selecting and collecting the objects of their lives. Choosing less and better, buying less and more satisfying, and thinking less and more conscious, is our message.
You have visited Formex before – what would you say makes Formex stand out when compared to other design fairs?
– The Formex fair has an optimism and happiness about it that is not present at most other commercial events like this; there is a nice flow, a friendly presence of people, rather well-made goods and a keen sense of hospitality. The fact that this is a Scandinavian experience must be the key to the success.
How does today’s Scandinavian design stand in an international comparison? What makes it special?
– For over a decade, Scandinavian design has become a focus of the world of interiors and public spaces. The connection with modernism, which can be considered the first wave of sustainable thinking, makes the movement important again. But personally I believe that Scandinavian design is important today because it never gave up its strong roots in nature and still handles warm organic form, versus cold industrial shapes; the advent of industrialisation and now virtualisation doesn’t seem to modify the organic aesthetic. This is why we organised North meets South at Stockholm’s Nordiska museet years ago, an intriguing exhibition that gave visual evidence of the way both geographical extremes do think and design the same.
– In a certain way, my exploration on animism is a further research into these links; after all, the northern countries, the African continent and large parts of Asia have always cultivated animistic rituals up to today.
About Li Edelkoort
Li Edelkoort was born in 1950 in the Dutch town of Wageningen. She began her successful career as the head of fashion at the De Bijenkorf department store in Amsterdam. After graduating from the art university ArtEZ, Li moved to Paris in the 1970s where she started her own trend agency, Trend Union, which now also has offices in New York and Tokyo. Every second year, the agency publishes the world’s most influential trend book, and this book is used by the designers and marketers at many well-known international brands, from Coca Cola to Gucci.
In 2011, Li launched the social media platform TrendTablet. She is considered one of the world’s most influential trend gurus and designers by magazines such as i-D and Time.