Joacim Wahlström is a furniture designer and architect. He is happiest when design is clear, graspable and follows a clear logic. The design and choice of materials are everything, whether for a house or, as is the case with the Verk project, an armchair.
What made you choose to work with Verk?
They have high ideals and want to bring something to the market that is lacking. And this happens to be something that I’m passionate about. Verk’s attitude matches my ideals and how I think. What’s more, it’s a bunch of deeply engaged, competent people who started Verk. We’ve discussed a lot, collaborated, and it’s always very open-minded and very personal.
In what way does your design contribute to a more sustainable society?
Just by choosing to work with a producer with a healthy view of production and consumption – one who makes sustainability, LCA, etc. a priority – I’m doing a lot right! Hopefully, Verk can inspire other players in the industry. I’m doing my bit to help them spread their message by making a nice piece of furniture that reflects their values.
What was the best thing about working with this product?
It was probably the prototype process and all the visits to the workshop to develop the shape and construction. And all the conversations on site with Tärnsjö and Verk.
Did working on this armchair differ from how you usually work?
It has felt very personal. I’m usually involved in pretty big projects at an architect’s office. I solve problems and implement ideas. Here, I’ve battled with my own demons. I’ve had ideas that have moved in different directions, and it has been up to me to make the all-important decisions. In the end, it very much came down to cleaning up, reducing and tightening up the design as much as possible.
Tell an anecdote about working with the product.
It was a big moment when, sitting with a glass of wine in front of the computer one Friday night, I managed to make the side asymmetrical. I moved the middle vertical post in the side forwards, creating a much more rigid construction. I was probably working on version 53 by that time. That small tweak gave the otherwise backwards-leaning chair a forward direction, balancing it both visually and construction-wise.
Why are you a designer?
You find something you’re good at and try to do it as best you can. If it also happens to be useful to others, it feels right in your bones.
Can design save the world?
Sadly, not. What is needed is basic, worldwide public education. If ordinary people have no interest in living sustainably, most will continue to make the wrong decisions, and sustainable design will not be chosen. But we can, of course, try to influence them. If there were more producers like Verk, it could make a difference.