Photographer: Heiko Prigge
“We have designed a lot of sofas, but I think the unique position Hem has taken in the market by selling direct to the customer has really shaped the thinking behind the new Kumo Sofa,” says Torbjørn Anderssen, one half of the Norwegian design partnership Anderssen & Voll. We accompanied the duo as they inspected the production of the Kumo Sofa in Lithuania.
“If you want to ship something around the globe, it doesn’t make sense to just move air around anymore. Each extra square centimetre is more fuel. It is important that it is compact — fitting onto one Euro-pallet perfectly — and when it arrives it needs to be intuitively easy to mount and this all has to be done at a design level,” says Anderssen.
When Hem spoke to the pair about developing a more ergonomic and economic sofa, their initial idea was to create a collapsible version. “We presented the idea to Petrus (Hem’s Founder and CEO). We said we wanted to make a sofa a bit like a tent or maybe even knitted like a running shoe. Petrus said, ’You had me at running shoe!’,” laughs Anderssen.
They soon realised the limitations of the concept and left the tent idea behind to create a modular system similar to stackable chairs. Their solution was to create a simple framework that could be stacked in transit and that customers simply assemble and slot cushions into. The resulting system, that can be customized with any number of seats, is both compact and easy to build.
“A good verb is to unfold — it’s not like mounting a sofa — but unfolding,” explains Anderssen. “Lots of sofas are easy to build, but they look square and blocky. With Kumo, shape is just as important, because it’s rounded and voluminous,” adds Voll.
Choosing manufacturers who could realise the designers’ innovative vision is key to the sofa’s success and Hem turned to long-time collaborators Achatas, Elastas and LTP, a trio of Lithuanian companies that work closely together and sit within just a few kilometres of one another. “The steel guys are connected to the foam guys who are connected to the textile guys — everyone is working together and this really speeds up the process,” says Anderssen.
The understanding that the three companies demonstrate between them is staggering and the precision in the metalwork, the innovation in the cushions’ foam casting and the intricacy of the textile tailoring is on full show when we visit to inspect the final product.
“The feeling of coming to the factory and sitting in the prototype, being embraced by it is a very physical experience,” says Anderssen as he twists and turns in the sofa, altering his position to calculate any final adjustments.
Kumo — The Award-Winning Design
Kumo – Japanese for cloud – is a ship-smart modular system by Norwegian designers and sofa-virtuosos Anderssen & Voll. Based on a single module, Kumo can be configured as a 1,2,3,4-seater and beyond. Available in three texture-rich woolen fabrics, Graphite, Porcelain and Mare, Kumo offers flexibility with an innovative frame and cushion construction allowing components to easily be added, removed or rearranged as your living circumstances change.
Kumo 2-Seater Sofa
Kumo 3-Seater Sofa
Kumo 4-Seater Sofa