Kristoffer Fagerström

SWEDEN (1975)

Kristoffer Fagerström is a product designer and a partner at Stockholm-based Note Design Studio. He grew up in Botkyrka, Sweden, near Stockholm, in an environment Fagerström calls “open-minded, creatively nurturing and entrepreneurial. I have never had to follow a predestined path. The future is flexible, right?” Following instinct more than plan, he explains that “being a designer has never been a goal in itself. Human nature, though, is problem-solving, and that has always been an underlying ambition. Through a designer’s goggles, there are a lot of problems to be solved.”

While still in high school, Fagerström worked as a news illustrator and graphic designer for a national TV channel, then at a motion graphics firm. “TV and video graphics was a blooming business then. TV channels screamed for identity work, and the digital special-effects scene in Sweden was just starting up.” He then started a post-production and special-effects company with partners, working on films, music videos and commercials.

A restless Fagerström spent a couple of years snowboarding in Austria and working as a pool boy, “asking tipsy tourists not to bathe naked in the Jacuzzi.” Renewed, he returned to Stockholm and to special effects, doing craft-level digital restoration. “I consulted as a restoration designer, basically doing advanced Photoshopping, but at 1,500 frames per minute.”

Ready to work in 3-D, Fagerström trained in woodworking at Nyckelviksskolan, in Lidingö, Sweden. That led him to Konstfack College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, where he studied interior architecture. While at Konstfack, he contacted the Swedish designer Gunilla Allard. “I assisted her in her work, and she mentored me in mine. I learned a lot from her design process and got a first glimpse of the furniture design world,” which he quickly realized was his passion.

After a stopover at a large-scale architecture firm, Fagerström started his own interior architecture business, renting a desk at Note Design Studio. Soon enough, all his work was being commissioned by Note, and he joined the studio full-time.

Founded in 2008, Note works collaboratively, giving a voice on each project to the studio’s product design, interior design, architecture, graphics and strategy team members. Note designers attempt to identify what is unique about a project and then emphasize that uniqueness. In that, Fagerström is aided by his children: “Their way of interacting with new and unknown surroundings and objects encourages me to think like them, and really that’s what being a designer is all about. Being able to observe the world through a child’s curious eyes is essential to look past your preconceptions of what can be done. First you have to forget everything.”

In 2017, Fagerström and Note designed the Note Collection, including the Note Stacking Chair, for Design Within Reach. The brief called for creation of a modern café chair using the least possible means, while keeping the human being in focus. For Note, a chair is about the whole experience, not just the aesthetics, so the challenge was met with enthusiasm. Its team always wants users to feel it’s kept them in mind throughout the entire design process. For Fagerström, a simple yet crucial part of that entails bringing beauty to the world. “Your surroundings affect you,” he says, “and I want to play a small part in you feeling appreciated, harmonious and taken care of.”

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