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An interview with CEO Robert Bladh

Discovering the art of welcoming with Swedish hall interior brand Essem Design

The first room as you enter a home is the hallway – an important way to create a first impression. According to the Swedish brand Essem Design this is "the art of welcoming". Essem Design manufactures sustainable, functional and well-designed hallway furnishings for private and public spaces. In an interview with the CEO, Robert Bladh, we get to know more about the brand.

A rich history
'In the beginning we were part of a foundry, casting aluminium products. Gunnar Bolin started this company in 1937. He also created our most famous product, the Nostalgi hat and shoe rack. My father, Sten-Roger Bladh, started working for the company in the 80s and got the chance to acquire the rights to the products. He started his own company in 2002 with the name Essem Design, which was the branding name of all the hat racks,' says Robert. After 2010, Sten-Roger's children Frida and Robert became co-owners, with the same ambitions to run the company. 'I've taken over the role of CEO from my father, but he still gives me advice.'

Focus on sustainability
One of the core values at Essem Design is sustainability, a principle deeply ingrained in the company's DNA. 'In the early days this was something you didn't think about and you took for granted. There was a high value on materials and you didn't take more materials than you needed. You created products to be repairable and easy to take apart, products with a long life cycle,' explains Robert.

The Nostalgi 291 hat rack and Nostalgi hanger, by Essem Design.

From the early days, Essem Design focused on creating products that were built to last, with repairability and longevity in mind. Today, sustainability remains a central focus, with the company actively working to minimise its environmental footprint. 'In recent years it's been a hot topic, which is good because it's important to do the right thing. A lot of companies, big and small, are paying attention to sustainability,' says Robert.

Essem Design's commitment to sustainability extends to its product development process, where careful consideration is given to materials, production methods, and end-of-life options. By prioritising recyclable materials and energy-efficient practices, Essem Design aims to reduce its impact on the environment while delivering high-quality, long-lasting furnishings. 'We have goals to decrease our footprint year by year. Hopefully by 2050, we'll have no impact at all,' says Robert.

Trade shows
Attending both imm cologne in January and Stockholm Furniture Fair in February provided varied experiences for Essem Design. 'At imm, it was our second time participating, we faced challenges with visibility, so we missed spontaneous visits. However, we did meet significant customers and formed new connections,' says Robert. Stockholm Furniture Fair, on the other hand, proved more positive: 'Being a recognised brand in Sweden, we received good traction, especially for our new Nostalgi family additions: the bench and hanger. It was a good fair for us, and we had a good spot. It was a smaller fair than it used to be, but the concept was good: "Less, but not soulless".'

The Nostalgi Bench, by Essem Design.

Market presence and future plans
With a strong foothold in Sweden, Essem Design is also expanding its presence in international markets, including Norway, Germany, and the United States. The company's participation in prominent trade fairs like imm cologne and Stockholm Furniture Fair has helped showcase its products to a global audience and forge valuable partnerships.

Looking ahead, Essem Design remains committed to innovation and sustainability. Robert highlights ongoing efforts to develop new products and expand into new markets while navigating challenges in the Swedish building industry. 'Important for us is to find new customers, also outside of Sweden. The industry has been struggling for a while, but we have quite a lot of inquiries and projects that are still running. So we're waiting to see how it will affect us in the future,' Robert says. Despite economic uncertainties, Essem Design is optimistic about the future and is poised to continue its legacy of blending tradition with contemporary design.

More information:
Essem Design
Nennesmovägen 9
33433 Anderstorp, Sweden
+46 (0) 371-19410
[email protected]