Interview by Antti Rimminen | Pictures by Martti Järvi

This year the theme for Habitare was Tomorrow’s Home. Signals trend exhibition at the event focused on future trends and weak signals of interiors, living, lifestyle and design. Visitors interested in visual interior trends were able to get new ideas and inspiration while the larger societal changes were also portrayed for those who wish to dig deeper.

Susanna Björklund and Sisse Collander. Picture by Antti Rimminen.

Signals is curated by Susanna Björklund, Sisse Collander and their team. They uncover the future; conduct research on customer centricity, changes in values and consumer behavior and implement new design processes. Around had a chat with Susanna at the opening of the exhibition.

Could you please tell us a little about the process of creating the exhibition – how early do you start it and how do the major trends evolve into the 4 visual stories?

The process is fairly long. And it sort of starts straight after we have finished the previous exhibition. Signals has many layers, we show interior trends and colours but there is always a deeper societal layer and mega trends behind the visual trends.

Sisse Collander and I create the exhibition together with a pretty intensive collaboration. We have idea sessions and discussions and we start off with the themes. I teach futures thinking and give lectures to companies, so I update my materials all the time. We also travel to design fairs and attend all kinds of seminars along the way. We are constantly scouting for change and interesting bench marks and phenomena.

Obviously mega trends do not change that often, but we think about different angles and interesting societal topics that have come up and decide the themes from there. It is about intuition and tacit knowledge as well.

We have to send the floor plan to the fair centre in the beginning of the year, and short introductions of the themes. Then we start adding ideas to each theme, physical ideas and products. We design the parquet floors for Timberwise, who provides the floors, in good time. So the wheel starts to roll and obviously it gets faster the nearer the fair we go.

This is the third year that you have done Signals at Habitare. We live in a world that is somewhat more difficult to forecast than before – did this affect your process of creating the Signals exhibition this year?

We live in an information society and trends come and go. All of us look at the world in a subjective way, there is no such thing as one truth or one, objective way of thinking. That was actually our main theme this year; “What colour are your glasses?” Media brings out negative news all the time and there is hype over how fast things are changing in the world. It is good to remember though, that many things do not change much for instance the way we humans feel about things or our needs and wishes. Values also change rather slowly. In a very digital world Signals´approach is human centred and multi sensory. So, to answer your question, no it did not affect our process at all.

One of the major trends is buying less as we are more conscious about our environment, but still consumers get bored just as quickly as before – if not even quicker. How do you see that design companies can still make a profit while making less new products?

Tough question, of course. About sustainable products, they have to be desirable and well designed as well as good quality. Nobody buys an ugly dress or a product no matter how sustainable they are. So design is in a crucial role. The whole consumer experience should be designed as well to be as interesting and surprising as possible. Service is also part of the design process, and seems to be getting more importance. You never buy just the product, you buy the experience, so if the products do not change so often, you can create multi sensorial experiences every once in a while. Good stories are touching, but they have to be real. Consumers also want more for less, that is good to remember.

Transparency is important as well, the more consumers are aware of how broad a concept sustainability is, the more they can demand. Everyone should check their favourite company´s dedication and relationship with sustainable issues and demand answers, if they are not visible.


The exhibition had four themes, each of which formed their own separate world: Happiness, Offline, Age Less and Coincidence.


Signals 2017: Happiness

All of us have different tastes and interests and we are far from being objective. For some the glass is half full, for some always half empty. We wish our homes to show personality and yet we want to belong. There are countless trends in the information society, do they matter anymore? How does your home reflect your happiness?


Signals 2017: Offline

There is a strong countertrend for the megatrend of digitalization. We increasingly value own time, intuition, tacit knowledge and soft values. Do we really need to be online and available 24/7? Hand made objects, tactile materials and surfaces invite us touch. Physical books have not disappeared and the green boom of plants and flowers shows no signs of fading.


Signals 2017: Age Less

Aging is a megatrend and people seem to turn invisible when they get older – but aesthetics and own personality are still important. Luckily age conventions are blurring in many ways, anyone from a teenager to a granny can start a thriving business. Does a home reveal the age of the inhabitant or is it more about tastes and values? When does a piece of furniture turn old or become a classic?


Signals 2017 Coinsidence

Not everyone believes in coincidences, but one cannot control everything either. Who do we happen to meet? Where do we happen to be born, where do we start a home? What is available in the furniture shop, flea market or sale, when we are shopping?

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