At Panafold, we value curiosity and expanding our borders. So, it was with great excitement that Kit, Meg, Jorge, Wut, and Eduardo visited Oslo and Copenhagen to meet with direction-setting product designers. The first stop was the shared creative community at Studio Prindsen in the center of Oslo. There, we were introduced to Kristine Bjaadal’s work such as this elegant linen-upholstered wood and steel Ladybug chair. Its construction resembles a beetle’s; a soft inside covered by a protective shell. We also met with Runa Klock, who is possibly coolest designer in Scandinavia and has an astounding resume.
As we walked through the courtyard we saw evidence of one of Klock’s most recent efforts, Retour, which creates appealing bikes by uniting design, cast-off bicycles and under-employed people who want to learn how to be good with their hands. Check out a video on Retour here.
Klock is also leading a project called Bokhari, helping Pakistani artisans to create traditionally-crafted textiles that appeal to the European market. Every purchase helps employ artists and foster education in Sultan Town, Faisalabad, where the literacy rate is incredibly low. Literacy is life-changing for the children, she told us, enabling them to access knowledge on their own and change the way they think about the world.
If that were not enough, in Oslo she cofounded a company, Epleslang, which employs young people who need work experience--including many people with disabilities. Epleslang produces all-natural apple juice and brings their crew to harvest donated apples from trees that bear excess fruit. They then make that into juice. Klock’s work doesn’t stop there.
Runa has also designed cutting boards for the social entrepreneurship project, Moving Mamas. The organization employs immigrant mothers, helping them adjust to life in a new country. The boards are made using by-products donated by Kebony, an eco-friendly Norwegian wood producer.
Finally, Runa designed some of the most cutting-edge tableware in Oslo for the sophisticated hotel, The Thief. This project has a socially conscious bent as well: prisoners in Oslo Fengsel, Norway’s largest prison, craft the tableware and gain satisfying work experience. Norwegian prisons focus on teaching skills so that inmates can find work when released.
We’re proud to mention that Runa worked with us as an intern when Panafold first opened its doors. Even then, she fixed up a bicycle to zoom around San Francisco, foreshadowing Retour. In an interview with Cool Hunting, Runa said, “I believe the most important thing we can do is to make people feel useful.” We couldn’t agree more, and cannot wait to see what Runa has planned next.