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Taf Studio, the subtlety of design

Since 2002, Taf Studio has never ceased to combine artisanal and industrial processes in the development of their projects. Based in Stockholm, the duo works internationally in both product design and interior architecture. At the last Stockholm Design Week, Taf Studio presented a new collection with Artek and exhibited a series of pedestals and podiums at the Auction House Bukowskis. “Fundament,” a tribute to function and humility, highlighted bare elements of presentation, a nod to the duo’s revised interpretation of codes. Meet Gabriella Lenke and Mattias Stahlbom, a prolific studio that brings out all the subtlety of design.

Gabriella Lenke and Mattias Stahlbom met while studying interior architecture and furniture design at the Konstfack School of Art. Based on the fact that everything around them has an impact on daily life, they place great importance on the quality of workmanship, details, colors and even textures that interact with the environment. Winning a contest during their studies, they decided to work together and founded Taf Studio de after their final exams.

Svenskt Tenn, Famna, design Taf Studio.

The spirit of Scandinavian design


When asked about the specificities of Scandinavian design, they mention the influence of certain natural elements on the creation: “The geographical conditions, the lack of light in winter, the surrounding wood used intensively have shaped a Scandinavian style that remains very varied and influenced by the rest of the world. Scandinavian design remains relevant in creation thanks to the social values that are part of its reputation. Our production is, we believe, our way of understanding and therefore contributing to the world today, through, among other things, subtle but effective changes in both the appearance and function of products and spaces.”

Muuto, Ambit Lamp, design Taf Studio.

Creative process


In their workshop, the shelves are furnished with numerous models of projects, in various scales. Each project begins with a discussion that establishes a set of specifications. They have a predilection for paper, and it is it that will give the rhythm to the creative process. It is both a support to draw and build models and models: We also do a lot of modeling and 3D printing. The most important phase is the development of the physical and analog models. Our vision is above all inclusive, integrating function and aesthetics. It is a post-modernist approach. We don’t make a distinction between space and product, in the sense that we integrate space into the design of our furniture, and vice versa. Of course, function remains paramount. The utilitarian object is integral to our practice.”

Artek, Kori collection, Handsketch, design Taf Studio
Artek, Kori collection, Taf Studio design.

Inspiration and creativity


Once again, paper is their source of inspiration. Observation is elementary: whether it is of everyday objects, heritage or knowledge of the companies they work with, it contributes to enriching creativity. Japan is a strong source of inspiration, as are the achievements of filmmaker Roy Anderson. Some designers, such as Achille Castiglioni, Dieter Rams, Alvar Aalto, Jean Prouvé or Enzo Mari have given us an obvious heritage, but we turn more naturally to art and the seventh art.”

Museum, String Furniture, design Taf Studio.
" Fundament" exposé à la Auction House Bukowskis, Stockholm Design Week 2023.

Long-term collaborations


At the beginning, “As we are not trained in entrepreneurship, we had to approach publishers. Being turned down is always complicated to deal with…. Since then, it has worked both ways. We have good relationships with some large companies. We work mainly on the basis of briefs. But we are a force of proposals and at the origin of various projects. It’s probably the best combination, in terms of stimulation and creativity. We then evolve differently.” They have built lasting collaborations with Artek and Muuto. But also work with Svenskt Tenn, Gärsnaäs, Fogia and String Furniture, not to mention upcoming projects with new brands.

They were also asked to design for the Copenhagen Design Museum and the National Museum of Stockholm:“For the latter, we designed furniture, and we were in charge of the interior architecture of the new restaurant, with the realization of tableware as a bonus. “

Garsnas, Bleck sofa, Taf Studio design

A question of material


Their production is marked by a work of rigid materials. We are mostly interested in “classic” materials like wood, glass, steel and aluminum, probably because of the Scandinavian tradition. We are also interested in innovative materials, but at the moment we have difficulty finding enough durability to use them. On the other hand, we take into account the know-how of our customers who mostly work with these ‘classic’ materials.” But they are also turning to flexible materials: We explored textiles for the creation of sofas and upholstery, which we enjoyed. But the lack of precision of this soft material makes the task more complicated than with a hard material. That said, we’d really like to expand on the topic.”

Artek, Atelier chair, design Taf Studio, National Museum, Stockholm.

Emblematic projects


The Atelier chair for Artek was a strong project in their journey: “It was designed for the National Museum of Stockholm, as part of its renovation. It is a universal, stackable and versatile seat, and therefore timeless. We also designed a wooden desk lamp, made with simple materials. Bringing aesthetics back to basics is what we strive for. We treat each assignment uniquely, but there is a common thread that ties them all together, it’s a sort of signature as it flows from our operation.”

Cecile Papapietro-Matsuda