Designers go back to first principles

    Iggesund Paperboard recently invited international designers to take part in a week of activities in the forests around Iggesund to learn about forest management, paperboard manufacture and paperboard’s properties and possibilities. A similar event was staged last autumn, and it was so successful that the company decided to repeat it.

    The Iggesund Design Experience 2013, which was held in August, brought together 13 designers from around the world. Participants visited the local forests and learned about modern forestry methods. They saw also how Invercote is manufactured and learned the differences between paper and paperboard. They discussed sustainability and the choice of materials, and they had the opportunity to question experts on silviculture, water purification, hygiene and the safety aspects of food packaging.

    At the beginning of this year, Iggesund contacted almost 15,000 internationally active designers and offered them the opportunity to apply for the program. The response was considerable but perhaps not as great as the organizers had expected. “Maybe [it was] because the offer seemed too good to be true,” said Staffan Sjöberg, public relations manager at Iggesund. “We look after the group for a week and combine excursions into the forests and experiences of Swedish culture with a lot of information that can benefit participants in their daily work.” Sjöberg hosted the event together with Product Manager Johan Granås for the second year in a row.

    This year’s participants included designers from Sweden and elsewhere in Europe, Argentina, the U.S. and India. They ranged from rookies eager to spread their wings to professionals with many years of experience.

    “It’s a privilege to be able to spend a week together with colleagues from the whole world,” said Nadine Hajjar, a designer based in New York. “The chance to discuss common problems of the profession with people who are working along the same lines but in other cultures is a fabulous opportunity.

    “In addition, the week as a whole, the program of events and the atmosphere were terrific. The event has been so good that I wish everyone who works with paper and paperboard could be given such an education.”

    The event will probably be repeated. Over the decades Iggesund has built up an extensive body of knowledge about paperboard and its use, and hosting visits by designers is one way to pass on this knowledge to others. “We don’t believe that everyone will go home and instantly start using our products, Invercote and Incada, for everything they do,” Sjöberg said. “But if we can encourage more designers to choose their materials with greater awareness based on knowledge rather than the latest fads, then we’ve made some progress.

    “We hope the designers have left us with new insights into how they can make their creations stand out from the crowd, not only through their designs but also from a sustainability perspective.”

    Do designers work in the woods? Photo: David Fajula
    Do designers work in the woods?
    Photo: David Fajula