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Interview with Stefan Scholten project "Not too little, not too much" for Forbo Flooring

11 of September '23


Interview with Stefan Scholten project "Not too little, not too much" for Forbo Flooring

Iwona Ławecka: Is this your first collaboration with Forbo Flooring?

Stefan Scholten: Yes, this is the first cooperation with the company, but we have known each other for a long time. In my graduation thesis at Design Academy Eindhoven, I used linoleum in a furniture project. This year I was asked by Forbo Flooring to create a color collection of furniture linoleum, as my interest in colors, materials, textures, finishes is well known. I also design furniture and textiles.

I.Ł.: As far as I know, you work with a well-known carpet manufacturer, the Spanish company Nanimarquina, among others. Are floors particularly occupying you these days?

S.S.: I am generally interested in industrial design, which I call "soft". In our studio, we like to create design a little different from coffee makers or cars, more personal. In the case of Forbo Flooring, you can talk about handmade products. Of course they use machines, but the ingredients - literally - are mixed by people. The process relies on the knowledge and experience of employees who have been with the company for years. I was totally surprised by this. It's really a natural product, in the creation of which there are artisanal stages, although, of course, mass-produced.

produkty marki Forbo Flooring Polska

Forbo Flooring Polska brand products

© Forbo Flooring Polska

I.Ł.: What is the difference between furniture linoleum and flooring linoleum?

S.S.:The top layer is thinner. You can feel the texture of the material well. It is different to the touch. Its ingredients are chalk, wood flour, linseed oil, pine resin and paper backing. It's a beautiful sustainable product. The company doesn't have to use so-called green washing, because its products are inherently green.

I.Ł.: How did the color work for Forbo Flooring come about?

S.S.: It mainly consisted of highlighting the color in the color. We started with raw linoleum, a material basically without any pigments. That's where the project title "Not too little, not too much" came from. Gradually we added pigments - not too little, not too much. A little more, a little less. The whole collection is close to this basic color of linoleum.

produkty marki Forbo Flooring Polska

Forbo Flooring Polska brand products

© Forbo Flooring Polska

I.Ł.: You have escaped my question by designating the title of the project.

S.S.: The title has many meanings. First of all, I asked myself: what can I do for the company? As for the pigments and that there should be just as many as needed, this approach is in line with my design philosophy of using the minimum number of resources.

produkty marki Forbo Flooring Polska

Forbo Flooring Polska brand products

© Forbo Flooring Polska

I.Ł.: What was your inspiration?

S.S.: The existing collection, because there are many beautiful colors in it. However, they are somewhat office colors. I wanted to create colors for residential interiors, more soft, friendly. I had a starting material - linoleum in natural color. This was the ground zero from which I started, important in my work, because I always want to understand the basic color of the material first - wood, ceramics and other raw materials - without adding anything.

produkty marki Forbo Flooring Polska

Forbo Flooring Polska brand products

© Forbo Flooring Polska

I.Ł.: Why exactly are istool tables the "carrier" of the colors you designed? What was the reason for choosing these particular forms?

S.S.: I asked myself, how to show the project during Salone del Mobile? How to make the fair audience aware of the material for furniture, after all, Forbo Flooring is primarily associated with floors. That's why I decided to design home furnishings in which linoleum would be used and thus show the beauty of the material. When we visited the factory and watched the production process, I realized that at many stages something is rolled, rolled, rolled, rolled. This was the inspiration for the table base. Its shape reflects just this movement.

produkty marki Forbo Flooring Polska

Forbo Flooring Polska brand products

© Forbo Flooring Polska

I.Ł.: The location for the presentation of the project was unique. Who decided to show it in Rossana Orlandi's gallery?

S.S.: It was my decision. I have been presenting my projects here every year for 25 years now, and I am friends with Rossana Orlandi. I thought it would be beneficial for the company if it presented the product not at the fair, but outside the fair, in a slightly less business-like way. Rossana Orlandi's gallery is visited by a lot of people. Representatives of the company were a little surprised by the effect, the fact that they reached such a large group of design lovers. I, from the beginning, was one hundred percent convinced that it was a great location. Architects, interior designers, designers, creatives from different fields of art came to us. Each of them was interested in the product for a different reason. It turns out that really good business can also be done outside, outside the fair.

I.Ł.: What applications do you see for furniture linoleum?

S.S.: Of course, it can be used not only for table tops or seating, but also for kitchen furniture, cabinets, coffee tables, for vertical and horizontal planes, even for steel surfaces. The most sustainable way to use furniture linoleum is to finish wooden surfaces with it. It is worth noting that furniture linoleum is a finished material. It does not need to be varnished, which I personally appreciate very much.

produkty marki Forbo Flooring Polska

Forbo Flooring Polska brand products

© Forbo Flooring Polska

I.Ł.: I would like to go back to the process of creating colors for Forbo, in the context of the working method you are known for. Can you explain the idea behind it?

S.S.: To arrive at authentic design, I follow two paths. One is the personal path. I listen to my intuition. I simply know that the product should be this way and not that way. I always combine this approach with the needs of the customer and the user. The whole art is to not lose identity in the process. We mix the colors "by hand". In this case, we first gathered a whole range of materials: wood, stone, ceramics, even textiles. This set can be seen in one of the photos promoting the collection. Then we looked for colors that fit this profile. Taking this base natural linoleum color as a starting point. The challenge was to choose three colors. At first there was talk of two. I thought about five, because I am used to creating larger color collections for textile manufacturers. Two colors are not enough, three is better, because the colors communicate with each other. If I want to tell a story, I need a certain range. When I studied at Design Academy Eindhoven, creating models was the order of the day. We didn't have computers, 3D programs. If you wanted to see something three-dimensional, you had to build it. Now designers have other options. In the 1990s, to see the color you wanted, you had to paint it. Today, an intern who comes to my studio doesn't know how, with paper and scissors, to make a model. So I started teaching this. At the Design Academy we call this method "artelier." Later, together with artists and other colleagues, we developed a program referred to as "auto working."

I.Ł.: What challenges are in store for you after Milan?

S.S.: We have a lot of work right now, which is fantastic, of course. One of the orders is a project for the Nanimarquina brand. We are also working on a new product for Hay, which will be launched in 2024, and we have once again established a partnership with 1616 / Adrita Japan. Well, and during the presentation of the Forbo Flooring project at Rossana Orlandi's, among the visitors was an entrepreneur interested in the table, so there were more opportunities.

I.Ł.: Indeed your studio has something to do.

S.S.: Basically, I'm not interested in creating too many projects - ten a year at most. And in principle, for a studio like ours, six is completely sufficient. Previously, before the pandemic, we worked more, and we also did trend forecasting. Now I want to explore more deeply the issues I deal with. The fewer collections, the better. I am not alone in this. This is a general trend related to climate change. I'm happy to be part of it.

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