Photography: Heiko Prigge
Videographer: Jan Rybák
The creators of Hem’s newest Kumo Sofa, Torbjørn Anderssen and Espen Voll are among the most prominent Norwegian designers today. Their widely-awarded work stretches over various fields of design, with a firm focus on domestic objects. We recently caught up with the designers in their Oslo-based studio to hear more about the journey with designing the Kumo Sofa.
“We have designed a lot of sofas, but I think the unique position Hem has taken in the market by selling direct to the customer has really shaped the thinking behind the new Kumo Sofa,” says Torbjørn Anderssen, one half of the Norwegian design partnership Anderssen & Voll. As two fifths of the now defunct Norway Says design collective and under their current guise, both designers have been instrumental in bringing contemporary Scandinavian design to the fore.
“If you want to ship something around the globe, it doesn’t make sense to just move air around anymore. Each extra square centimetre is more fuel. It is important that it is compact — fitting onto one Euro-pallet perfectly — and when it arrives it needs to be intuitively easy to mount and this all has to be done at a design level," continues Anderssen.
Established in 2009, the studio of Andersson & Voll is located in central Oslo, in one of the oldest buildings in the neighbourhood, dating back to 1802. Settled next to the river of Akerselva, the area is known as home to numerous design studios and art schools. "We have now a team of ten people, which feels good — they all have different skills that compliment each other," says Espen Voll.
When Hem spoke to the pair about developing a more ergonomic and economic sofa, their initial idea was to create a collapsible version. “We presented the idea to Petrus (Hem’s Founder and CEO). We said we wanted to make a sofa a bit like a tent or maybe even knitted like a running shoe. Petrus said, ’You had me at running shoe!’” laughs Anderssen.
They soon realised the limitations of the concept and left the tent idea behind to create a modular system similar to stackable chairs. Their solution was to create a simple framework that could be stacked in transit and that customers simply assemble and slot cushions into. The resulting system, that can be customized with any number of seats, is both compact and easy to build.
“A good verb is to unfold — it’s not like mounting a sofa — but unfolding,” explains Anderssen. “Lots of sofas are easy to build, but they look square and blocky. With Kumo, shape is just as important, because it’s rounded and voluminous,” adds Voll.
Ultimately, the Kumo Sofa represents a new direction in furniture design, one that Anderssen is quick to elevate, “This is a Hem and Anderssen & Voll thing — we should ride the wave. We have accepted the object as a fragmented thing, it doesn’t have to be a totally unified, upholstered seamless body. It allows for the gaps, or the smiles, between the cushions, this is a natural consequence of how it is made. It really feels like this sofa is going to make a big splash.” he beams.
Shop the Kumo Family
Kumo – Japanese for cloud – is a ship-smart modular system by Norwegian designers and sofa-virtuosos Anderssen & Voll. Based on a single module, Kumo can be configured as a 1,2,3,4-seater and beyond. Available in three texture-rich woolen fabrics, Graphite, Porcelain and Mare, Kumo offers flexibility with an innovative frame and cushion construction allowing components to easily be added, removed or rearranged as your living circumstances change.
Kumo 2-Seater Sofa
Kumo 3-Seater Sofa
Kumo 4-Seater Sofa