Eurovision 2013: Discover Malmö – The creative side of the city; Made in Malmö

by Sanjay (Sergio) Jiandani 193 views in collaboration with Malmö Turism invites you to discover Malmö and experience the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. Today we we will have a look at the creative side of the Eurovision host city- Made in Malmö .

Made in Malmö

The city of Malmö has made its mark on the design and fashion scene steadily throughout the 90s and 00s, but it is now – in the early 2010s – that the city is really coming into its own as a design hub and centre for form and inspiration. Creativity in Sweden’s third largest city is at an all-time high, and names such as Hövding, Apokalyps Labotek, Louise Hederström and Common illustrate the level of self-confidence. 

The underdog wins the day

Malmö has certainly come a long way since the dilapidated post-industrial days of the late 80s. Back then, Malmö might have seemed like a lost cause with its high unemployment and abandoned shipwharf, but today the old industrial area is converted into eco-friendly accommodation, academic campuses and buzzing office spaces and the city has found new ways of making the wheels spin. However, the old fighter spirit of Malmö is an important part of the city’s identity, and that shines through in its design scene. It’s the grit and the boldness of the underdog. Unafraid, it is prepared to follow any promising path forward, free from prejudices and rigid conventions.

Creativity thrives on such a mentality. Early on there was a successful local music scene in Malmö, producing internationally acclaimed bands such as The Cardigans. All sorts of artists performed and recorded in small, back street clubs and studios throughout the city. Valuing freedom and independence over size and scale, the scene grew surprisingly big for such a small town. Today, designers here have adopted the same way of working, the same culture of prizing independence and local networks.

And of course, today is the perfect time for such an attitude. Never before during the industrial era have there been so many diverse opportunities for small-scale producers and sellers as our hyper connected age now presents. Digitalized production and e-commerce are flourishing in a global context. The designers in this exhibition collaborate in many ways: working for various diverse producers, acting as their own producer, or for a few big companies. What unites them is a culture of trusting their own ideas. They are born at home, but close to the world.

Chieftain and role model

An underdog has nothing to lose, and this gives courage. Something that industrial designers Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin needed to develop their ‘invisible’ bike helmet, the Hövding (Swedish for chieftain). It all began with their final project work when studying Industrial Design at Lund University’s Faculty of Engineering (LTH) in 2005. Six years and many innovation prizes later, the helmet – in reality a variant of a self-inflating air bag – was ready for presentation. It inflates to cover the head when needed, that is, when the cyclist falls. Otherwise, it sits unassumingly – and invisibly – as a collar around the wearer’s neck.

The former students’ team in Malmö has now grown into a full staff of employees. “Nothing is impossible,” they say quite candidly, and it is part of their concept to think of the Hövding as not only a product but a role model, ready to influence and change the world.

Similar dedication is found at Apokalyps Labotek, comprised of industrial designers Petra Lilja and Jenny Nordberg, who have developed their own design methodology, Past Present Future (PPF), to guarantee a product’s entire life cycle. Apokalyps’ first green items – a soap made using waste oil from falafel production and a parquet-type flooring made from discarded car tyres – have garnered a great deal of interest. Awards and exhibitions from Poznan, Teheran and Berlin to Lisbon, London and Paris.

Looking good – feeling good

Fashion has been one of Malmö’s most prominent genres since the days of Katja of Sweden and tricot fashion back in the 1960s. The most prominent contemporaries include the streetwise yet elegant garments made by Natalia Altewai and Randa Saome under their label AltewaiSaome, and not least the award-winning team behind the label Common. The founders and designers behind Malmö-based Common are Saif Bakir and Emma Hedlund, who have previously worked for such diverse labels as House of Holland and Kanye West. The idea is not only to create great and wearable styles, but to do so in a sustainable way by producing every garment locally in Sweden and using only sustainable production methods and materials. No wonder Common recently walked away with the 2013 ‘Best new brand of the year’ ELLE award.

Another great example of local innovation and style is Mariano Leone and Therese Lilja, the duo behind the Svensson brand of jeans. Both have their roots in the bohemian and multi-cultural Möllevången area of Malmö, and the Svensson ‘family’ includes not only great clothes and denim but a wider cultural output of graphic design, club nights, art exhibitions and the publication of a culture magazine. The Svensson store on the high street Södra förstadsgatan is more than a place to buy great jeans – it’s a gateway to the underground media, fashion, art and music scene of Malmö.

Malmö by Proxy

A slice of the Malmö design scene can be experienced right now, accompanied by the sounds of the city, at the Malmö by Proxy design exhibition which displays several proud Malmö design names. The exhibition is freshly arrived from the furniture fair in Milan, and features Andréason & Leibel, Apokalyps Labotek, Martin Björnson, Oskar Ek, Green Furniture Sweden, Lisa Hilland, Louise Hederström, Olof Kolte, Mines Above Ground, Minus tio, RVW, Martin Vallin and Ola Wihlborg.

You can catch the Malmö by Proxy exhibition at Sweden’s – in fact one of the world’s – oldest still functioning design centres, Form/Design Center on Lilla Torg in Malmö. Form/Design Center was founded in 1964, and since then has arranged countless exhibitions and debates. The Malmö by Proxy exhibition is open until May 19 2013.


Swedish Ninja,
100% Malmö,
Jonas Lindvall,
Ruud Ekstrand,
Minus Tio,
Charming Unit,
Lisa Hilland,
Mats Karlsson,
Mats Theselius,,
Fred Duthy,
Robert & Blad,
Form/Design Center,