Traditional thinking is that a product needs to sell in high volumes to be considered a real success. But for customers who desire hyper-unique spaces, there can be a fine line between a commercial hit and a design that feels overly ubiquitous. Now, the rising value placed on individuality is leading some shoppers to another segment of the industry: collectible design.
This growing market allows product makers to explore concepts that may be too avant-garde for the masses — or too difficult to manufacture in large quantities. And lately, it’s even started to attract the attention of major brands.
Swedish design company Hem announced today that it is building upon its popular table and chair offerings with a secondary vertical focusing on offbeat creative collaborations limited to editions of one hundred pieces or less. The pieces will be marketed and sold under the name Hem X.
The launch of this new sub-brand was inspired by the positive response to Hem’s 2019 collection of limited-edition design objects developed in collaboration with the London-based gallery and magazine Modern Design Review. Keeping with that format, Hem X will explore further curatorial partnerships, enlisting edgy design experts to keep the brand informed about underground talents with fresh concepts.
The first batch of Hem X introductions arrives from a trio of Swedish makers and artists nominated by Stockholm-based “interior decoration collective” Arranging Things. “In selecting our makers, we look for nice people with great skills who have a forward-thinking and personal expression which is shaped by curiosity, attention to detail, and is slightly weird,” explain Arranging Things co-founders Lisa Millberg and Leo Forssell.
Each of Hem X’s three chosen designers has delivered their own interpretation of a modern conversation piece. Take Lisa Reiser’s Moln, for instance. Named after the Swedish word for cloud, the appropriately bubbly hand-blown Mercury glass sculpture is fabricated by glassblower Peter Kuchinke with the help of a custom mold pieced together from old pipe fragments. For added impact, a mirrored, hot pink finish gives it Koons-esque flair.
Meanwhile, Jonatan Nilsson has used resin-coated styrofoam to craft a miniature podium named Power Plinth. A laser-cut mirrored acrylic top acts to reflect whatever treasure shoppers place on top of it. Like Moln, it’s available in an edition of thirty-five.
Rasmus Nossbring’s glass Monument sculptures are offered in an even more limited run — Nossbring produced just fifteen editions, five each of three different colourways. Each one was pressed into an optic mold while hot, then folded, cut and polished into something that resembles a Memphis Group trophy.
Needless to say, any of Hem X’s three launch products will look right at home as statement decor on furniture pieces like Hem’s Zig Zag shelf. “We like to think of the mass-produced and the artisanal as complementary, and we love the idea of having both avenues under the Hem umbrella,” says Hem founder and CEO Petrus Palmér.
As a way to put smaller batches of goods into production, Hem X also creates a potential opportunity for designers to better utilize material offcuts — without having to invest in their own product marketing and distribution network for sales. As for consumers, the brand’s limited-edition ethos is another development in the rise of more idiosyncratic home interiors. As the Hem X collection expands, shoppers can find pieces that resonate with their specific personalities. In other words, to thine own self be true.
The Swedish design company introduces an experimental platform defined by small production runs.