After 30 years in the Scandinavian design industry, Karlsson is now the CEO of Bebo Objects, a new interior design and lifestyle brand aiming to cross borders between the inside and outside. Karlsson explains that he’s always worked with brands with a long history.
— So starting a project from a blank sheet, he says, has been exciting and terrifying but all together positive, though intense and crazy times in the middle of a pandemic.
The first collections, he continues, are created by Pierre Sindre, David Ericsson, and Stine Aas/Tekla, and are quite different from each other — both in expression and materials.
— All products that we develop should be functional for both indoor and outdoor use which is a challenge if you at the same time want to work with sustainable materials. For example, most of the companies that work with outdoor collections use teak. We think it would be a major mistake when we now have the opportunity to start from scratch. So, instead, we use heat-threatened ash.
Do we really need another interior design brand?
— Good question. The answer is of course, from our point of view, yes. My question is instead whether all the already existing ones will be around in the future. If we are consequent and honest with the materials we work with, I definitely think there is room for new and exciting brands that has a different approach. From a sales and logistic point of view, I think we can challenge our competitors. We want to attract both the private consumer and contract business so therefore, we have the whole collection for drop ship, for B2C, B2B, and at the same time we are open to do custom-made solutions, B2B. We have signed some major deals with B2B and B2C customers and have a lot of interesting discussions with international customers and dealers, says Karlsson.
You want to ’cross the borders between inside and outside’. What do you mean by that?
— Inside and outside environments. We think there is so much good design out there that could be used in so many different ways. However, it requires that, in the development phase, take into consideration being able to use it both inside and outside. This is a spot on the market where not so many are right now. You can, however, notice that some established brands are heading that way today, by either developing these functions or buying an existing brand or company in the segment.
And what makes your furniture so functional? What’s the secret?
— Actually, there is no secret. I’m quite surprised that no one is using, for instance, heat-threatened ash instead of teak. What I can say is that at least the price is not an issue if you compare the FSC teak with the FSC thermo ash.
We do have ’functional’ brands available on the market. What’s wrong with those?
— I can only refer to my own experience; everywhere that I’ve been during all my years in this business, the sustainability issue has not been high up on the agenda internally. While externally, it’s the main focus! I guess that’s what’s called greenwashing. Let me take an example: most Swedish producers are against importing products even if they are produced in a sustainable way, but when it comes to exporting their own design around the globe, there’s no bad conscious. For me, that doesn’t make any sense, says Karlsson.