The family-driven furniture manufacturer Vestre had a lot to celebrate this past August. The month marked a big birthday for the Norwegian company, founded by Johs. Vestre in 1947. Over the past 70 years, the company has supplied furniture to towns, parks and outdoor public spaces around the world, from the Aker Brygge neighborhood in Oslo, Norway, to Times Square in New York. To add some fireworks to the occasion and help it bring its historic saga to life, Vestre turned to Oslo-based integrated design practice Snøhetta, whom it had previously enlisted to design its production facility in Torsby, Sweden, and to refurbish its headquarters and showroom in Oslo. What resulted were cohesive designs for a two-volume book set tracing Vestre’s history as well as an exhibition of select pieces of Vestre furniture, held at the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture (DogA) in Oslo. Both exhibition and book set were titled Folk+Form.
The book set, consisting of one purely textual book and one pictorial book, greets viewers from inside a perforated, bright yellow slipcase. Along with the title, Folk+Form, Snøhetta also decorated the books’ covers with enveloping patterns foil stamped in bright colors, echoing the design and shape of the emblematic steel plates adorning Vestre’s production facility and the interior of the company’s headquarters and showroom. The original plates, a by-product of laser-cut steel salvaged from the company’s production process, emphasize Vestre’s sustainable approach to design and manufacturing. As the books are placed in the slipcase, the perforation reveals geometric portions of the books’ coloristic covers.
For the exhibition at DogA, Snøhetta created plates that also draw inspiration from the cladding and decoration present at Vestre’s production facility and headquarters. Snøhetta’s installation comprised twelve perforated, colorful plates, each representing different aspects of Vestre’s brand and identity. Separately, the plates capture frozen moments from the public realm in full scale, from a Vestre bench to conversing passersby. Together, they unite to echo Vestre’s philosophy of creating furniture for people in movement in the public space.