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The Pattern Project

  • Carl Folkesson
  • Cecilia Mosesson
  • Olivia Stahl
  • Annelie Wihlborg
  • Max Lunden Jansson

From concept to product

Students Beckmans College of Design

The Pattern Project

In March of 2021, thirteen first-year Product Design students of the Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm were asked to create new patterns for either Flotex or Marmoleum. The project was initiated by Josefin Larsson, Forbo Flooring Systems' Marketing Manager for the Scandinavian market, and Peter Nylander, senior lecturer at the Product Design Department of the Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm. Read their interview in the second tab for more information on the initial project.

The results were beyond expectations, and we felt the need to honour this. As a next step, five winning concepts were selected to be executed into tangible and industrially produced products. In total eight patterns were chosen; three Marmoleum aqua-jet and five digitally printed Flotex patterns.

From concept to tangible product

The scaling up of a concept to a product is, as we say, 'the moment of truth' and it is important for a student to experience this entire process.

The original brief was to develop a series of patterns for Flotex and Marmoleum with our digital printing technique and aqua-jet technique as starting points.

While the Marmoleum aqua-jet patterns have a more eye-catching function and are perfect to create specific areas or to indicate zones, the Flotex prints are more suitable for application in larger areas.

Every technology has its own characteristics, possibilities and limitations and needs specific knowledge about, for example, options in repeat, scale and colour management. To make a suitable translation of the concept for the selected production process, a close collaboration of the students and the production sites was needed.

It was a great learning curve for the students to experience the challenges of a manufacturing process and to find out what kind of preparation is needed for the industrial reproduction of their patterns. They also gained experience on what it means to work with a commercial partner. The students proved to be very professional, and they succeeded to translate the selected concepts into beautiful and convincing production samples.

The Dynamics of a building

Part of the design brief was to incorporate our Dynamics of a Building story, a philosophy based on the emerging need to have different atmospheres within one building. Students were invited to develop designs that either created a family or showed a strong synergy while being combined.

With the final production samples, we organized a photoshoot to visualize this starting point. While being photographed in the context of an interior setting with real props and furniture, the scale, texture, and dimensions of the patterns became wonderfully readable. We were positively surprised to see how well the expression of the different designs in material, colour and pattern contributed to the creation of a specific atmosphere.

dynamics of a building
Jenny Haynes [@pappersaxsten] | Photo: Lee James Thompson

Beyond expectations

The main goal of this collaboration is to inspire others with fresh and contemporary designs and photo-set images. By incorporating these designs in our digital library we can test each of them on their commercial value.

It’s even more reassuring if we get the request to translate one of these ideas into a real project. For example, the Pedestrian Crossing pattern was noticed on social media by Jenny Haynes, a British quilt designer. Together with the student, Annelie Wihlborg, she developed a floorplan with the original Marmoleum aqua-jet design as inspiration and installed this into her newly refurbished studio.

The initial project - interview

What happens when you ask Swedish design students to come up with new floor patterns for either Flotex or Marmoleum in only three weeks? It seems like an almost impossible assignment, yet - spoiler alert - the results were astonishing. A conversation with the lead players of this special project.

The project was initiated by Josefin Larsson, Forbo Flooring Systems' Marketing Manager for the Scandinavian market, and Peter Nylander, senior lecturer at the Product Design Department of the Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm. Marijke Griffioen, Senior Designer at Forbo Flooring Systems, and Dorothé Kessels, Director Global Design, guided the project virtually from The Netherlands. We spoke to Nylander (PN), Kessels (DK) and Griffioen (MG) about the goals of this project and the surprising results.

Peter, can you tell us a little bit about Beckmans?

PN: ‘Beckmans is a small design college with approximately 120 students, that is well known in Sweden. We educate designers in three departments: Product design, Fashion and Visual communication - and have done so since 1939. The school has a good reputation, so it is quite difficult to get in. Most of the students already have one or a few years of experience when they start their education. In this particular project, thirteen first-year Product Design students participated.'

Why did you contact Forbo?

PN: ‘It was a joint idea from me and the program director of Beckmans, Margot Barolo. Each year we hold a course in which first-year students learn about patterns and colour theory and how they can change how you perceive an interior. A few years ago, we collaborated with a French carpet company and noticed that for the students, it is interesting to think about an entire environment you can cover with patterns: designing a floor is perfect for that. That is how we got to Forbo. We liked that it is an international company with a lot of knowledge and we love the material: in Sweden, natural linoleum is quite popular. Personally, I also appreciate the sustainable characteristics of Marmoleum (Forbo’s linoleum brand), especially in a time where there are so many plastics in the world.’

Marijke and Dorothé, why did you say yes to this project?

MG: ‘We have worked with schools before; for us it is always interesting to meet a new generation of designers. Beckmans operates on a high level, so we immediately said yes.’

DK: These sorts of projects are a win-win situation: the students learn from our knowledge and we might generate new designs for our portfolio.'

Brainstorm NABA

We will get to the interesting results later on, but first: what was the assignment?

MG: ‘We started with an elaborate presentation about the various techniques to create Marmoleum patterns, how it was done in the past, and what techniques we use today. In the past, Forbo for example used laborious block print and stencil techniques. Today, we use Aquajet: a technique with waterjet-cut pieces of linoleum that afterwards form an inlaid pattern. But we also still use the ‘old’ hand-cutting technique, for which skilled craftsmen carve out pieces of material that are then put together like a puzzle. Another material we introduced to the students was Flotex: a flocked vinyl product that can be digitally printed.'

DK: ‘We gave the students three weeks – so a very short period - to design two realistic patterns that function like a family, meaning that they can be used individually but also be combined in a way that adds value. That is also how we design ourselves: our collections are designed for synergy because they are inspired by our in-house trend research and colours are selected from our yearly updated global colour card.'

MG: ‘The idea of 'family and diversity' is an important leitmotiv for Forbo Flooring Design: our designs can be easily mixed and matched to cover an entire building. This approach is related to our philosophy of the Dynamics of a Building (DOAB), a concept developed by Forbo Flooring Systems, that we also introduced to the Beckmans students.’

Can you explain this Dynamics of a Building philosophy?

DK: ‘Each year, our design team researches colour and material trends, but we also dive into, for Forbo relevant, new developments in the built world. For this, we analyse how people move and function within a building.’

MG: ‘In 2015 we discovered that buildings are not as unambiguous as they used to be. For example: a hospital now also have restaurants, shops and hospitality spaces, and schools have areas to study and to relax. After research, we coined five main interactions taking place in a building: receiving, moving, connecting, concentrating, and recharging. These different scenarios are more and more combined and interwoven within the spatial design for a building. Buildings are becoming multifaceted and their interior design flexible, and with our flooring designs we want to support this change. We find that very interesting and use this philosophy when designing floors.’

Was this a totally new concept for the students?

DK: ‘In the way we describe it, it was. However, they did understand our DOAB right away and correctly applied it within their projects.’

MG: ‘For us this collaboration was also a good test to check if our idea of DOAB not only resonates internally within Forbo Flooring Systems, but can also be communicated in a simple and accessible way externally. The fact that the students understood us right away, proofs to us that our philosophy is relevant and applicable.’

Let’s get to the fun part: the ideas of the students. There were thirteen students, from which you choose three winners and two honourable mentions. Can you point out some of the ideas?

PN: ‘Winner Carl Folkesson designed a patchwork of linoleum pieces, like a collage of leftovers. This idea of upcycling is very relevant today because of sustainability, at the same time his design is very aesthetically pleasing.'

MG: ‘We also appreciated that Carl translated, upon our request, his hand-cut Marmoleum design into a matching Flotex print.'

DK: ‘The second winner is Cecilia Mosesson. Her sources of inspiration were Ikebana, the Japanese flower arrangements, and floral murals. Her compositions were amazing and the colours very refined; Cecilia’s designs are almost graphical art pieces. She used Aquajet as a special cutting technique, that is often used for eyecatchers and landmarks within a space.’

PN: ‘Cecilia is now translating this idea into a repetitive pattern for the process of digital printing on Flotex.'

MG: ‘Olivia Stahl, the third winner, came up with contemporary, retro-like patterns: she wanted to use Aquajet but we suggested also to use Flotex.’

DK: ‘Annelie Wihlborg’s design, the honourable mention, was inspired by pedestrian crossings, which she transformed into a pattern. She emphasized on the functionality of a floor design, using pedestrian crossing as a pattern to lead the way, in line with our idea of 'moving' within the philosophy of DOAB. It is very practical and very much Forbo.

Max Lundén Jansson’s design, another honourable mention, used natural phenomenon’s like branches and mountains as a source of inspiration: he designed patterns that work well independently or together, in line with our 'family' idea.’

Cecilia | office grey marmoleum
Pattern 1 & 2

Will the designs actually be produced?

PN: 'Now, after the assignment has ended, Marijke and Dorothé are helping the five students that made the most suitable patterns for Forbo, to develop their ideas. It’s very important for the students to be able to take part in this kind of product development. This will help them understand the industry and the profession they are on their way to embark upon. Samples that can be used for communication purposes are being made and of course we hope that someone will actually place an order for one of the students' designs, so it will be taken into production.’

MG: ‘We will also give the five winners samples of their ideas. They worked so hard and were so motivated, they deserve this tangible result. Besides that, we ask them to photograph the samples in a spatially suitable context and post them on social media, to spread our ideas digitally. The designs of the students are such inspiring examples of what you can do with our materials and techniques!'

DK: ‘These designs also proof that our ideas about DOAB are accurate: they confirm our vision of the future of buildings. Like Peter said: we hope someone will order one of the students’ ideas, so it can actually be produced and will demonstrate how beautiful it will look in a real-life setting.’

Will the pattern project become a pattern, or in other words: will there be a next edition of this assignment?

PN: ‘We would love to collaborate again! The project was inspiring and very pleasant, because of the great results and the very good contact with Forbo Flooring Systems.’

MG: ‘We couldn’t agree more. The whole process was a pleasure, thanks to the students and the fantastic collaboration with Peter.’

DK: ‘The results were the icing on the cake: we never even dreamed of such high-level designs. They exceeded all of our expectations.’

Carl Folkesson

Carl Folkesson

The final product

Carl Folkesson

Carl Folkesson - Patchwork

'The starting point in my project has been patchwork quilts and to see the beauty in diversity. Colours, patterns, shapes and textures that weren’t made for each other, could build a perhaps more interesting unit together. Leading words have been the old Swedish saying: 'man tager vad man haver', which translates: 'you work with what you have'.
My 2x2m pattern is based on already existing plates from Forbo’s assortment, Flotex and Marmoleum mixed together. My 4x2 printed pattern is a visual extension of the first one, but on a smaller scale and all in Flotex.'

Carl Folkesson
Pattern 1 - Centerpiece
Pattern 1 & 2 - Receiving_Connecting

Cecilia Mosesson

Cecilia | Flotex beige grey
Cecilia | Flotex beige grey

The final product

Cecilia Mosesson - IKEBANA

'The Japanese art of Ikebana floral arrangements denotes that the arranger pay as much attention to the careful placement of flowers as to the empty space surrounding them. By combining organic forms of floral motifs and abstract shapes, with geometric squares and grids - these two patterns reflect the feeling of balance and harmony that alludes to the Ikebana and Japanese zen philosophy.

The first pattern/ illustration is a 2x2m tile in Marmoleum, and the second pattern is in Flotex.'

Cecilia Mosseson
Cecilia | Ikebana

The final product

Cecilia | Ikebana

Olivia Ståhl

Olivia | Cuckoo colour
Olivia | Cuckoo grey office

Olivia Ståhl - Kaffe & Cuckoo

'In my design I wanted to work with the element of contrast, cool earth tones and draw inspiration from Brutalist architecture. I wanted my patterns to have a familiarity to them, by having discreet indications to everyday objects.'

Olivia Stahl

The final product


Annelie Wihlborg

Annelie | pedestrian crossing
Annelie | Pedestrian crossing


'The pedestrian crossing is probably one of the most visually recognizable patterns we encounter in the cityscape. The stripes form a bridge that takes us safely from one side of the street to the other. This inspired me to play with the concept of the floor guiding us in a building. Complementing the large-scale Marmoleum pattern is a smaller and more playful Flotex print.'

Annelie Wihlborg
Annelie | Beckmans Student Challenge

The final product

Annelie | Beckmans Student Challenge

Max Lundén Jansson

Max | branches & Mountains
Max | branches

Max Lundén Jansson - Branches & Mountains

'The concept of 'Branches' was created as a result of wanting to invite a calm atmosphere into our buildings. It all started with asking myself where I go when feeling the need to recharge and get a deeper sense of connection in our fast-moving society. This question led to our roots in the wild, and got me searching for shapes that could easily be associated with our nature. Existing in such a variety of forms, branches felt like a perfect starting point to explore the world of pattern design together with Forbo Flooring Systems.'

Max Lundén Jansson
Max | double pattern
Max | double pattern

The final product