Swedish design brand Hem wants to work with designers that are on their own trajectory. We talked with Hem’s Petrus Palmér on the secrets of successful collaboration and creating products that make a mark in history.
HEM – SWEDISH FOR 'HOME' – was founded in 2014 and has over 300 products ranging from furniture and carpets to lighting and accessories. Hem has worked with some of the most relevant designers of today, such as Max Lamb, Luca Nichetto, Pauline Deltour, and GamFratesi. CEO and founder Petrus Palmér has a degree in industrial design. Before Hem, he has been a founding member of other Swedish design studios such as Form Us With Love.
Hello Petrus! Could you begin by telling us about your vision behind Hem?
“I’m a designer myself and I’ve spent my professional life with furniture design. A lot of what we stand for stems from our passion for design and interiors. We want Hem to be a platform where we can partner with amazing creatives and enable them to get a wider audience. Our idea is to be a driving force in the design community rather than trying to push a product.”
“Of course, design is a nice-to-have type of thing, not a necessity. But having creativity and beauty in your life is part of what makes life worth living.”
Hem has worked with some of the most renowned contemporary designers. What has been your secret in getting them on board?
“I think our attention to detail and the passion for the profession and craft shows. Also, right from the beginning, we have had a good dialogue with many designers. It all happens very organically: the dialogue can start as a discussion about a product we have already done or a collaboration I have seen. We can chat on Instagram, and, before we know it, we’ll end up talking for two years, leading to a new product.”
What’s the common thread to all Hem products?
“On the aesthetic side, we want to work with designers that are making a mark today – the next generation icons. Such strong creators and authors are on their own trajectory, exploring things they are passionate about. Max Lamb has been a huge inspiration for us: someone who is not just following trends and what the market wants. This type of collaboration is usually successful but it’s also the most challenging one. Those don’t come often, there are only a few such designers in every generation.
“We partner with designers that have a strong voice. They should be motivated by curiosity and have the guts to come up with their own distinctive answers.”
There is also a number of purely functional aspects, like that all our products are suitable for heavy use. Quality is extremely important because we have a lot of contract customers such as interior designers and architects. Also, we want to make highly sustainable products that last – products for the auction houses of tomorrow. This goes for the whole supply chain. For example, we only use FSC certified wood and minimize the use of non-organic materials such as plastics.”
What are your bestsellers?
“We have a few icons like Last stool by Max Lamb. It’s a simple enamel stool that looks like a bucket upside down. It strikes a chord with its universal shape and qualities that are unique. The same goes for Hai chair by Luca Nichetto. Anyone who sees it can understand why it’s comfortable and beautiful. Also, the Udon chair by Staffan Holm has universal beauty to it but is innovative in how it’s made.”
What makes a design iconic?
“Having a product that is truly iconic is something few brands manage. If you look back to icons from history, of course, a big part is that they have universal value but equally importantly they are a sign of their time. You can understand why they were made. For example, the Eames’ industrially bent chairs are modernist products. They reflect a change in culture and people moving to the cities from the country.”
More favorites by Hem
What current trend is most interesting to you?
“It has been a turbulent world for a couple of years and people want to feel comfort and safety. You can see this in textiles, in the size of furniture, shapes. A lot of our products are in between home and office. Already before Covid-19 technology allowed many to work from anywhere, and the offices started to look more like homes. It has been our take to make furniture that feels natural, and we have made many products in wood, without synthetic materials.”
What’s your own all-time favorite from Hem products?
“It’s always the latest products that are your darlings. The Udon chair is one. Also, the Zig Zag shelf has been very successful, because it’s in line with how people live and work today. It’s not optimal in how much you can store in it, but it’s beautiful for displaying items. There’s no need for a lot of books anymore but we do still want to display items. It’s a basic need to have beauty around you.”
What place do you call hem, home?
“Actually, I’m homeless at the moment! We had a beautiful house in the center of Stockholm that was perfect when our kids were smaller. Now they have started school and we are moving out. We are renovating a concrete house from the sixties. At the moment it’s plain concrete. I think our home will be a bit more colorful this time around. Naturally, there will be a lot of Hem furniture. I have noticed that we have evolved into a very colorful company, and that’s something I long for myself, to have more color and joy.”
Text: Taina Ahtela Images: Hem and Erik Lefvander