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Lean in and meet the newcomer

Want to know who the hottest new design talent is? Lean in and we’ll tell you…

Every year since 2006, Swedish Furniture brand Materia has honoured the cream of bold young designers with its annual ‘Newcomer’ prize. The award sees their innovative furniture, or interior accessory concepts, developed for commercial production, in collaboration with Materia’s own design experts and master craftsmen. The scheme provides young designers with exceptional insight into mass production and gives fledgling design talent an uplifting blast of publicity.

The latest holder of the prestigious ‘Newcomer’ title, which has previously helped to launch the careers of established design stars like Front, Form us With Love and Nathalie Adenling, is the highly accomplished Norwegian Kaja Solgaard Dahl, who is a graduate of the highly respected Beckman’s Design School in Stockholm. She recently completed her Master’s in ‘Design for Luxury and Craftsmanship’ at ECAL in Lausanne, Switzerland (her third degree!) and made it into Wallpaper’s discerning 2016 Graduate Directory.

As she works to establish her design studio in Oslo, Solgaard Dahl’s contribution to Materia’s range comes in the form of the unconventional ‘Lean In’; a piece of furniture that challenges conventional ways of using interior space, by encouraging users to stand, but to follow their natural instinct to lean against the wall for support. Solgaard Dahl was inspired by observing her fellow design students, as they stood and chatted during coffee breaks and informal group discussions. As she explains: ‘In essence, ‘Lean In’ simply gives from to a natural human behaviour.’

All past Materia Newcomer award-winning designs have been chosen for their ability to make users stop, think, and question their ingrained behaviour, and ‘Lean In’ is no exception. Wall-mounted, it provides an inviting soft support for the body, with a profile sculpted to support the neck, back and lumbar region, in a variety of leaning positions. Perfect for areas with a limited amount of space, it encourages users to follow their natural inclinations (you see what we did there?), but in a way that encourages good posture and healthy ergonomics.

‘Lean In’ has hit the ground (or wall) running at Stockholm Furniture Fair 2016, by attracting plenty of interest from buyers, who are taking time out of their busy exhibition schedules to stop, lean and relaaaax. It looks like Newcomer Kaja is leaning towards a bright future.

All images: Materia