Article by Raine Blunk
“The Show(room)” by Bolon is a far cry from carpet shopping at Home Depot. You’re not likely to need an orange bucket while you shop, and you certainly won’t find anything less-than-revolutionary within Bolon’s impressively innovative portfolio. In fact, the company calls themselves “champions of daring Swedish modernism.” And while not all of us are sure exactly what that’s supposed to mean, the “The Show(room),” premiering at Stockholm Design Week, speaks multitudes about Bolon’s unconventional approach to flooring (and in turn, art).
Marie Eklund, one half of the The Bolon Sister powerhouse, says the “Silence” collection illustrates their product’s “unique ability to create 3D effects and reflect light,” making a “versatile collection that is subtle, light and warm, but still rich in color with a silk-like appearance.” The sheets, tiles, and planks are modular and when placed in opposing grain directions create effects similar to that of a rotating holograph against the light. It’s got to be the first creative approach to “cool” carpeting since shag. In that vein, it’s also the most successful.
Even considering the collection’s heavy use of stark greys and similarly-shaded earth tones, visitors to the Bolon booth at SDW have found the atmosphere surprisingly inviting. And Bolon’s pledge to creating environmentally-conscious carpet (100% free of the softening agent phthalate ) more than appropriate considering the collection was inspired by the natural beauty of Swedish countryside.
In honor of the launch, Beckman’s College visual communication and design students collaborated with choreographer Alexander Ekman to create a promotional film for SDW. Serenaded by the sweet sounds of an industrial loom, dancers perform a “Stomp-esque” routine, transforming into carpet-clad homemakers by the end of the less than two minute film entitled “The Contradiction of Silence,” visualising the atypical world of possibilities carpet (yes, carpet) has to offer.
“The Contradiction of Silence” marks one of Ekman’s few artistic endeavors in the name of commercialism, yet the film makes the retail aspect of the product seem completely irrelevant. In an interview with Totally Stockholm, Ekman explained he quit his career as a ballet dancer because of its creative limitations, saying that in ballet, “there’s a right and wrong and everybody already knows what these are.” Bolon, on the other hand, is making a strive in 2014 to collaborate with minds like Ekman, and has explicitly stated their interest in creatively defining their product using the resources of the collaborative artistic community regardless of the supposed “right” or “wrong” ways to advertise their carpeting.
Ekman’s eclectic choreography coupled with the mechanical aesthetic of “Contradiction” remind us it’s not so wrong to want something with a little more substance in an industry often defined by durability ratings, steam cleaners, and the color beige. Not to mention the constant barrage of ripoff marketing strategies and manipulative sales pitches we see on television, “The Contradiction of Silence” steps far outside of our often one-dimensional approach to advertising.
Most of us don’t associate carpet with “unconstrained design flair” or “unlimited potential.” Bolon has been able to disregard the pre established limits of the commercial industry through their modular, ultra-durable, ultra-customizable designs. They’ve created room for artistic exploration through the innovation of the carpeting itself, answering a question we didn’t even know we wanted to ask: Does carpet have to be boring? And Bolon’s step into a part Bjork, part industrial revolution, part Swedish countryside aesthetic fueled by fresh artistic inspiration is the first of many to come this year. Eklund feels “these collaborations make perfect sense” in relation to the company’s boundary-pushing goals. We should expect more startlingly conceptual projects from Bolon if we have any hope for a future focused towards comprehensive, innovative design.