In recent years, local production and craftsmanship have emerged as one of the biggest trends in every industry. Close-to-nature materials play an even more important role. Architect Jack Dalla Santa and the founder of the interior design studio Temporärt, Cristian Lind, co-founded Stockholm-based Contem in 2021 to use high-quality reclaimed wood that would otherwise be wasted. All their furniture is produced locally in Stockholm.
Tell us about the concept behind Contem?
Jack: “The brand is in many ways born out of insights from the building industry and the feeling that far too much good material is being lost in the huge number of renovation and demolition projects going on in our cities. However, it is not only based on the idea of making the world a better place through sustainable and circular production, but also the realization that this is the only reasonable way to work in order to continue doing what we love.”
Cristian: “This project has solved the equation of how to produce locally and sustain-ably, while preserving quality. It is an approach that Temporärt has been eager to initiate. At the same time, we’ve been able to draw inspiration and references from the vintage furniture we’ve been selling for over ten years.”
What current trend is most interesting to you?
Jack: “These last few years have started some quite interesting changes in the way people live. I don’t know if one would categorise them as trends but they are very interesting to follow. In Sweden it seems that the interest and dedication for one's own home has increased drastically due to the fact that most of us have spent more time there. This has led to a lot of things, like home renovations and purchases of new furniture but also that people increasingly have bought houses and land outside the big cities, being able to work remotely. In this new situation it seems that many have started to look at what’s around them in a new light, repairing and taking care of what is existing, both in terms of the organic and what is built. Hopefully this can translate back to how we treat our dwellings and lives in the cities.”
You are the founders of Contem. What kind of backgrounds do you come from?
Cristian is the founder of the design studio Temporärt and has worked with several big brands both in fashion as well as other fields. Jack is an architect educated in Switzerland, who runs his own practice and has experience from several architectural offices both in Stockholm and Switzerland. That’s the formal background, other than that we are childhood friends and have both grown up with fathers who have in various ways worked with vintage furniture and has taken great influence from that.
What do you want to achieve with Contem in the future?
We are at the moment focusing on collaborations where sustainable and unique pieces of furniture and interiors can be developed together with companies that are striving in the same direction. We have some interesting things coming up ahead which hopefully will be inspiring to follow.
What compelled you to choose wood as the material for your furniture?
The reasons for choosing wood as a material are quite rational, it comes both from the fact that we appreciate and want to build upon the Scandinavian tradition of using wood as a material for furniture but also the fact that there is a huge amount of wood going to waste. We want to, without sounding too radical, build wooden furniture without chopping down any trees for our production. Contem is driven by the conviction that the most sustainable materials are those which have already been used.
Our furniture series is produced in Stockholm from locally reclaimed, high-quality wood. Handmade using dimensionally adapted manufacturing and a selective choice of materials that guide the collections, the result is new, unique and expressive pieces that are simultaneously decades-old.
Do you feel the pandemic has made people think more carefully about how something they purchase is made, with more of an appreciation for skill over something mass produced?
The pandemic has brought a shift in the market where both material prices and lead time has increased which changes the way production is made. We therefore work with a local production both in our sourcing of material and in our manufacturing. We hope that the appreciation for good craftsmanship and understanding of the material will increase and we are also striving for producing furniture which are accessible for a wider audience in terms of their costs.
What makes a design iconic?
It’s a difficult question to answer but arguably one of the most important aspects is that the design is contemporary and a product of its time and still has a timeless presence. Not an easy thing to achieve.