Kaskad — A Chair That Evolves Over Time



Kaskad was something special when it was launched ten years ago, and the chair continues to turn heads to this day. Björn Dahlström, the chair’s designer, tells us about some of the things that inspired the award-winning design and its development. As Björn reflects on the factors that make a piece of furniture successful over time, he remembers how the Kaskad story began on the pages of his sketchbook, five years before the design was actually produced.


“It's unbelievable to think that you can sit so comfortably in a cage of threads,” laughs Björn as he remembers how lines once sketched across a blank page in 2006 were brought to life in 2011 by steel threads. Dahlström is an industrial designer with a long history of successful collaborations with Nola.

Over the years, Kaskad has received the Swedish Design S award and a Red Dot Design award. In 2021, the chair celebrates its ten-year anniversary.

“The chair started as a personal experiment before it went into production,” says Björn. “There are some ideas you want to test and work with for a long time before taking them to a manufacturer. In this case, I had an idea for a wire furniture design, but it was not obvious that it would be possible to sit comfortably on the piece of furniture I had drawn in my sketchbook.”

After developing the idea in his own studio, Björn took a model of “a fairly finished chair” to Agneta Stake at Nola, who immediately liked what she saw. Ergonomics and comfort became important aspects of their discussions around the design. “We contacted a model-maker who helped us craft a prototype in wood so that we could test the chair's ergonomics and comfort,” recalls Agneta.

The Kaskad furniture series includes a chair, an armchair and a table. A cushion is also available.

Kaskad’s power lies in the strong lines that create its strong profile. The name Kaskad alludes to the lines that cascade over rocks like wild water rapids or a waterfall. This photo depicts the designer's first 3D-printed model.

En tidig prototyp där mellanrummen mellan de blivande trådarna testades genom att placera träskivor på olika avstånd.

Thanks to in-depth studies and a lot of experimentation with wooden slats that represented threads, Björn and Nola finally arrived at the final version. The result was a chair that was comfortable and stackable, which had been challenging to create without compromising the shape. The development process had not just been about resolving technical issues alone. For Björn, it was also important to give Kaskad a unique expression.

“I had decided to create a three-dimensional sculptural form that would depart from the harsh expression that metal wire can often convey,” Björn remembers. “I wanted to build a softness into the lines and create a flowing shape.”

”I wanted to build a softness into the lines and create a flowing shape.”

Björn Dahlström, designer

Björn Dahlström is one of Sweden's most established and appreciated designers and has a long history of creating designs for Nola.

Kaskad has been featured in several international exhibitions and media promotions. This picture is from the exhibition "The Form of Success - Design as a Corporate Strategy" at the Red Dot Design Museum in Xiamen, China.

At Nola, we’re convinced that the combination of quality and good design will always prevail in the long run. In this case, they were quickly validated by the prizes and awards Kaskad won and the strong appeal it continues to have today. And from Björn’s point of view, the design process played an important role too.

“Product development is often done in a hurry,” says Björn. “There is a clear brief and little time for reflection, and a pressing date when the product has to be brought to market. I often work that way, which is no better or worse than any other. It's great when there is space for things to develop over time so that I can live with the design for a while, put away, then pick it up again. That’s how I developed Kaskad, and I think it’s part of the reason is it still being appreciated today.”

In celebration of Kaskad's tenth anniversary, Nola has donated a significant number of chairs to the Swedish Institute in Paris for the Swedish Design Movement show this Autumn.

In celebration of the chair's tenth anniversary and Paris Design Week, Nola has donated a large number of chairs to the Swedish Institute in Paris, where they will be a permanent feature. This picture shows Kaskad chairs in the outdoor cinema at the Swedish Institute in Paris.