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Interview with Linus Berglund, Marketing Director at Abstracta:

'Despite the recent European recession impacting the furniture sector, workplace well-being remains a high priority'

Since its start in soundscapes in 1972, the Swedish brand Abstracta has been at the forefront of acoustic solutions. No wonder they call themselves "acoustics pioneers". Especially after the pandemic there's been a greater focus on digital and hybrid meetings and the need for quiet workspaces. We interviewed Linus Berglund, Marketing Director at Abstracta to talk about this shift, the market conditions after the pandemic and about their exhibit at 3daysofdesign in Copenhagen.

On the left: Linus Berglund. On the right: the Abstracta Zen Pod.

Acoustics pioneers
Abstracta started as a company selling both furniture and store interiors, and gradually, it began to specialise in acoustic products such as desk screens, floor screens and wall panels. 'One of our best-selling products to this day is actually a screen that we have been manufacturing at our factory in Lammhult, Småland, in southern Sweden since the early 1980s,' Linus says.

'At Abstracta, we were early adopters of integrating acoustic functionality into product categories that traditionally were not associated with acoustics, such as lighting. This segment has expanded and has grown to become one of Abstractas most important product categories for acoustic products. For us, it has become a method of working or a way to tackle an acoustic problem when developing new products to combine the acoustic properties with another function. And we do that in close collaboration with some truly brilliant designers and forward-thinking architects.'

A shift in workspaces
'Over time, we have evolved in line with changes in the workplace and how we work. We have seen trends toward more open-plan office landscapes where personal workspaces have given way to a more flexible approach,' Linus explains. 'After the pandemic years, the way we work, especially considering digital and hybrid meetings, and focused work, has fundamentally changed. The way we plan and design offices and workplaces is based on how we solve the issue of focused work and digital meetings.'

Acoustic furniture concept Akunok.

'The answer lies in silent rooms or quiet pods, like the one I'm in right now,' Linus laughs and shows us around the pod he is sitting in during the online interview: the Zen Pod. 'The Zen Pod was launched a couple of years ago. Staffan Holm, the designer, has put a lot of thought and energy into the idea of how we experience a room, create an atmosphere, how a material feels to touch, or the ambiance we want to achieve with lighting. But the foundation is, of course, acoustics and silence, both from the outside and inside of the Zen Pod.'

This has become one of Abstracta's most sought-after and best-selling products in the history of Abstracta. 'For this year, we have expanded the product variants with two even larger sizes, so we can accommodate up to eight people in one room, facilitating furniture and other meeting equipment, so the product becomes a complete package for the customer.'

Challenges in the market
The customers of Abstracta are located throughout the world. 'Scandinavia, with Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, is our absolute largest market. But France, the UK, Germany, Benelux, and the rest of Europe are on a strong upward trend. Even Asia and the USA are starting to take notice of our way of designing acoustic products and solutions,' Linus says.

Despite challenges in the economy, Abstracta is doing well. 'For Abstracta the future seems very promising. Unlike other segments within the furniture industry and within the architecture and construction sectors that have been through some tough times during the recent European recession, well-being in the workplace is a high-priority area, both for employers and employees. Therefore, the focus on people and our well-being is not deprioritised when businesses grow or change. On the contrary, this is where resources are increasingly being allocated.'

On the left: artworks in new motifs in collaboration with Wall of Art. On the right: acoustic lighting concept Vika.

Abstracta at 3daysofdesign
At the recent fair in Copenhagen, Abstracta shared a showroom with its sister companies Lammhults, Ragnars, and Fora Form. 'The fair was a really well-organised event. Our showroom is right in the centre of Copenhagen, in newly renovated premises with high quality materials and strong character. We moved in there last year, and it has already become one of our most important places to showcase our solutions and allow customers to experience the effects of our acoustic products in real life. We had a party on Wednesday with great music, good drinks, and a wonderful atmosphere that attracted many party-loving and happy colleagues, customers, and design enthusiasts.'

In the showroom, Abstracta presented various acoustic solutions that have been in their range for a long time, such as wall panels, acoustic lighting, floor screens, and hanging panels, as well as showcasing this year's new products. Among which: the acoustic lighting concept Vika, (in collaboration with the experienced Dutch designer Khodi Feiz), artworks in new motifs (in collaboration with Wall of Art), the latest soft seating family Akunok, and two new XL additions to the Zen Pod.

When asked if events like 3daysofdesign will replace conventional fairs, Linus answers: 'I believe different fairs and events serve different purposes. There are great advantages to a traditional fair like the Stockholm Furniture Fair, Salone del Mobile in Milan, or Orgatec in Cologne. Here, you get everything in one place, it's efficient, you can see a lot of design presented in an efficient format. Events like 3DD in Copenhagen serve another purpose: we all enjoy a good vibe, and meeting our dear colleagues and customers, and contacts in the industry while experiencing new design and product launches in a pleasant environment, a lovely atmosphere, and hopefully nice and sunny weather. What's not to like?'

Linus adds: 'Copenhagen is a practical hub to travel to and the size of the city is also very managable. Scandinavian design as a phenomenon is absolutely world-class, so it's highly relevant to see what new trends and movements are showcased there. And we see that more and more international and long-distance guests are actually prioritizing visiting Copenhagen and 3DD over other design events to some extent.'

The new XL Zen Pod.

Future plans
After the summer, Abstracta will be at Habitare in Helsinki and afterwards at Orgatec in Cologne. 'These are events we are very much looking forward to, and we hope the reception of our new acoustic solutions will be as good there as they have been so far this year.'

More information:
Abstracta AB
Box 75
SE-363 03 Lammhult, Sweden
+46 472-26 96 00
[email protected]