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1. Innovation to the fore

Tucked away in a corner of Bolon’s Swedish home in Ulricehamn, you’ll find an inconspicuous, single-story building framed by pine trees. Although it is modest in appearance, within this space, remarkable things have happened. 

This is Bolon’s carpentry studio. A place where creativity becomes reality and many of the company’s head-turning installations take shape – and today is no exception as the innovative Korean designer JinSik Kim is putting the final touches to a special collaborative project. In the main creative space a young, energetic man is busying himself over at what at first glance looks like a film set from a science-fiction movie. He looks up, approaches and introduces himself – ‘Hi – I’m JinSik’.  

The journey to this point started months ago. In late 2015, Wallpaper* commissioned a hospitality and leisure themed installation to be included in their exhibition entitled “The Hotel Wallpaper*” to showcase at Via San Gregorio’s Arcade during Milan Design Week 2016. Realising this vision and conceptualising the idea would require a visionary, so the brand turned to rising Korean designer JinSik Kim. Part of JinSik’s brief was that he was entirely free to use any material in the design and production process – and that’s where Bolon entered the equation. JinSik takes up the story -

“I interpreted the brief from Wallpaper in a very straightforward way. For me, hospitality and leisure venues are very often associated with sporting activities. Spinning off from this, I chose to create a 5-hole mini-golf course – my way.”    

JinSik Kim at the Bolon head office

Looking around the studio, five pieces reminiscent of low tables that seem to float in the air are arranged. Some are comprised of overlapping circles, some feature more linear, angular designs. Curves and gentle slopes create a multi-dimensional feel and on every one, flooring from Bolon in different patterns and colours has been installed. He continues -

“With this project, the challenge was to recreate what are essentially naturally occurring phenomenon – relief, slopes, curves and circles – but in a convincingly artificial way. Starting with lightweight aluminium sheets I gently formed the base of each piece by heating the material and twisting it into the desired shape. When I was satisfied with these, I began to experiment with colour and pattern and how I could cut and lay flooring to get the most from its three-dimensional characteristics and compliment the shape of each obstacle”. 

For the obstacles, JinSik has chosen Bolon’s Create collection in three colours. In addition to the flooring on these five pieces, the entire installation space features Bolon’s latest collection, Bolon By You. This is complimented by marble accents from Spanish supplier Cuellar Stone, the other company chosen by Wallpaper* to feature in the exhibit. JinSik continues – 

“People see what they want to see. I created this installation to try to encourage people to challenge perceptions. Is it natural or artificial? It was also no coincidence that the installation encourages interaction. I want people to experience the tactile nature of each obstacle and the materials I’ve used by playing a round of mini-golf – can it get more hands-on that that?”

JinSik Kim works with Bolon Design Team

Leaving JinSik to apply the final touches to his pieces before they are crated and transported to Milan, Bolon’s Designer Petra Lundblad provides some insight into the project from her perspective – 

“Watching these creations come to life has been fantastic. In his own unique way, JinSik has again shown us the versatility of our flooring. For us, the creative challenge in this kind of project is exploring new ways to work with our product. By this we mean using it as part of complex designs and in unexpected ways. Doing so allows us to test our skills in terms of precision cutting and material use – and in this case, we also enjoyed the bonus of having a lot of fun with an inspirational collaborator.” 

JinSik Kim is a Korean designer, based in the country’s capital city Seoul. Specialising in luxury design, he graduated with a Master of Advanced Studies Degree in Design for Luxury & Craftsmanship at ECAL / University of Art and Design in Lausanne, Switzerland. He has also studied Theoretical Design, and has conducted research into the influence of physical technology and 3D printing in Contextual Design in the course of receiving a Masters Degree from the Design Academy Eindhoven.




2. Gothenburg’s Green Park

As green issues grow in importance, environmental fidelity has become a critical goal for architects everywhere. We see how the new Park49 building in Gothenburg is leading the way. 

Stylt is amongst the design firms involved in Park49, a new office building close to Gothenburg’s Central Station. Developed by the Skanska construction company and designed by local practice Arkitektbyrån Design, Park49 has become home to a variety of major businesses since its opening in March 2016. Not least amongst these new tenants are Advokatbyrå Glimstedt, a law firm, and the Västsvenska Handelskammaren regional chamber of commerce, both of which have chosen Bolon flooring for their new spaces. A major draw for these tenants is Park49’s striking environmental credentials; in a world in which architects are under increasing pressure to build green, Park49 is amongst the most forward-thinking buildings in Gothenburg. 

Park49 in Gothenburg 

Formally, Park49 is a building of two parts. The first – a five-storey aquamarine glass plane – is bisected by the second, a ten-storey white block that towers over the surrounding area. Both sections are topped with roof gardens. Although primarily dedicated to offices, the building also houses a restaurant that will be open to the public. “It’s a place that should be open for everyone living in the city,” says its architect Petra Skoglund. “It stands for something that is modern and innovative. It feels timeless.”  

Timeless certainly, but Park49 and its plethora of new occupants are also fine examples of Gothenburg’s historical reputation for openness and its sense of enterprise. The city was designed by Duch engineers, whose then state-of-the-art urban planning system centred around canals. In the 18th century, as the base of the Swedish East India Company, the city was buoyed by international trade, while from the 19th it became an industrial hub, home to Volvo cars and SKF, a leading bearing manufacturers. In 2013, Gothenburg was named as one of the world’s most inventive cities by the OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), but this spirit has been evident throughout the city’s history.  

In 1875, to get around legislation that limited wooden buildings to two storeys, a cunning builder submitted plans for a three-storey house with two wooden floors above a brick ground floor. The resulting Governor’s Houses – named for the county government that overruled the city’s objections to the scheme – have become a unique feature of the city. In more recent years, the likes of Ralph Erskine’s high-rise Lilla Bommen building and Gert Wingårdhs’ cog-shaped Kuggen building, executed with a terracotta facade, have maintained this sense of architectural adventure.  

Glimstedt office features flooring from Bolon in Park49, Gothenburg

Park49 fits into this cityscape well. Situated on the eastern flank of Parkgatan, next to the Old Ullevi football stadium, it sits opposite the Garden Society of Gothenburg, a verdant horticultural park. The park is a neighbour that exerts considerable symbolic pressure on any new building in the area to communicate its own green credentials.

“Park49 is one of the most significant buildings in the city. We wanted it to be a little more different, to speak out a little more. It carries a message, to remind us all to be energy saving.”

Jan Åkerblad, the owner of Arkitektbyrån Design.

It is a point on which Skoglund elaborates: “The lower part is supposed to remind us of the ocean, the higher of a North Pole glacier.”

Beyond symbolism, however, the environmental message is borne out by the building’s construction. White protrusions on the lower block, which resemble waves over the sea, shield the building from the sun, while the clear blue expanse of the glass is enhanced by the decision to forego energy-intensive electric blinds. Park49 was awarded platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the highest possible level, and upon moving in tenants are presented with an environmental contract covering their use of the building. Even in a city with an impressive environmental track record – Gothenburg was the first city in Northern Europe to issue tax-exempt green bonds for the development of green projects – Park49’s environmental credentials are strong, so much so that Arkitektbyrån Design has itself moved into the building. “We think it’s an interesting structure,” explains Åkerblad, “and it’s fantastic to have an office in a building you’ve designed. How often do you get the chance to work within your own building?”

Bolon Silence Ocular in Västsvenska Handelskammaren office

Other tenants seem to agree. Västsvenska Handelskammaren, the West Sweden Chamber of Commerce, has taken up the ground floor of the building, for which it employed Stylt Trampoli to design the interior architecture. Founded in 1661, the Handelskammaren is one of the world’s oldest chambers of commerce and in the 19th century it built the Trollhätte Canal, opening up trade across the region. As Stylt’s Erik Nissen Johansen puts it, “The organisation is basically as old as the city.” The Handelskammaren now serves as a symbolic gateway for a building filled with other local companies, with further offices and conference spaces two levels up.

Västsvenska Handelskammaren’s old headquarters, elsewhere in the city centre, were claustrophobic and hidden away, hardly a welcoming place to do business in. Caroline Domeij, the Handelskammaren’s head of meetings and events, oversaw the move to the new premises. “Our office was no longer suitable for our business,” she says, emphasising that Park49 doubles the chamber’s conference space and open meeting areas – an important consideration for a chamber with 2,700 member companies and 80 full-time staff. “We wanted to create meeting places where our members feel included and the strengths of the region are displayed. The aim was to play homage to the members of the organisation. The company are the amplifiers of the voices of the members.”

Västsvenska Handelskammaren uses Bolon flooring for its offices and open conference areas.

Working in collaboration with Stylt’s Karin Gullbrandtz, Handelskammaren used Bolon flooring for its offices and open conference areas. “We primarily use local suppliers and manufacturers from West Sweden and our member companies,” says Domeij. “Being a member company with manufacturing in the area, Bolon was an obvious choice for us.” The chamber picked Bolon’s Silence flooring, in the grey-green Ocular hue. Given that Silence was inspired by the local landscape and influenced by historical Swedish textiles, it’s a good fit for the Handalskammaren mission. “It is a beautiful floor with an interesting pattern,” says Domeij. “The floor pattern itself shifts in green and grey colours, which complements the choice of furniture.” Johansen agrees: “It’s durable, but has a textile feel to it. You can create a living room in an office.” It’s a perfect match for an organisation that seeks to welcome visiting companies with open arms.

This sense of openness is mirrored elsewhere in the building, particularly in the offices of the solicitor’s firm Advokatbyrå Glimstedt, which were designed by Gothenburg-based practice Wingårdhs. In the words of senior architect Helena Toresson, who helmed the project with her colleague Anna Mitrolios, “We wanted to create an interior that will show that they’re a bit more fun and easier to work with an other lawyer firms. A workspace that expressed openness and professionalism.” To achieve this, Wingårdhs mixed four Bolon materials – Artisan in Slate and Ivory colourways with Botanic in Cilia and Picea – to create a pattern. “We wanted to choose a material that feels modern and youthful, two lead words in our project,” adds Toresson. “The result is just what we wanted.”

Bolon Studio Triangles in Glimstedt office in Park49, Gothenburg

Fusing unique design, sustainable innovation and an inviting sense of openness, Park49 seems a fitting building to usher Gothenburg into the future. “When you complete a building, you learn what is bad and good,” says Åkerblad. “Here, thankfully, everything’s been good.”

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