Tailored Design Boosts Care and Diversity in the Urban Landscape


In the past, architects were often referred to as master build-ers, entrusted with curating the complete essence of a place. While the role has evolved, the belief in the power of site-specific design prevails. Nola shares this ethos and regularly embark on special projects that honor the heritage and distinctive characteristics of each space. These projects serve as catalysts for diversity in the urban fabric.


Nola has a deep appreciation for design. Not as an isolated art form, but for its role in shaping the overall architectural experience and the ambiance of a space, whether it’s a cityscape, a building, or an environment. Nola is driven by a commitment to ensuring that each of its products serves a practical purpose within society while seamlessly fitting into the architectural tapestry that spans different eras.

Arkipelag is a multifaceted bench and can be placed freestanding, curved or on walls. Designed by Fredrik Toller especially for Centralplan, the open-air concourse outside Stockholm’s central train station. Now part of Nola’s standard seating collection.

Historically, architects were often known as “master builders” and held a passionate responsibility for curating every aspect of a place, from the pavement and structures to materials, furnishings, and decorative elements. While the role of architects has naturally evolved over time, the core belief in the value of site-specific or contextual design remains solid. An attitude shared by Nola, and a firm believe that products should be thoughtfully developed to align with and enhance their specific environments.

– Innovative and distinctive design has left a lasting impression in people’s minds and has been an integral part of our DNA since our inception in 1980. Through collaborations with architects, we envision the future of cities and urban spaces–how they can look, be furnished, and be experienced, shares Nola’s founder, Agneta Stake.

“Through collab­orations with archi­tects, we envision the future of cities and urban spaces–how they can look, be furnished, and be ex­per­i­enced.”

Agneta Stake, Nola's founder

Nola has a long history of working closely with architects to adapt products for specific sites, providing a service that makes many of our designs unique. Like this custom-made 13-meter-long version of Nola’s popular Parco park bench installed outside the Stockholm Central Station.

The Bus terminals at Råslätts Centrum and Viktoriaplan, Jönköping municipality. Outdoor shelters for passengers and bicycle sheds for cyclists were developed especially for the site. Both structures were constructed with sedum plants and transparent polycarbonate in the roofs.

This philosophy finds validation in Nola’s diverse project portfolio and product range. It encompasses numerous creations inspired by unique concepts and tailored to their site-specific contexts. Products like Långbordet (the Long Table) by White Arkitekter, the Gällivare Bench (Gällivarebänken) by Liljewall Arkitekter, and the Kärrtorp Square furnishings by Bengt Isling are prime examples of special projects where Nola has played the role of problem solver and product developer. These collaborations have resulted in products that not only enhance the identity of their surroundings but also elevate the overall experience for those who interact with them. Some of these ideas remain rooted in their original context, while others become integrated into Nola’s collection.

The Gällivare Bench, for instance, was purposefully designed for Kunskapshuset in Gällivare and was honored with the Swedish Gold Chair Award (Guldstolen) for best interior design 2022. It’s seamlessly integrated into both outdoor and indoor spaces, bridging different areas with its adaptable design, which draws inspiration from local craftsmanship and Sami pattern motifs.

– Site-specific furniture often assumes a more significant role because it’s inherently challenging to replace or remove. When considering architecture as a holistic experience, furniture becomes a natural part of it. The Gällivare Bench has played a pivotal role in defining the identity of its location, enriching both the visitor’s experience and the client’s vision for a unique architectural statement, explains Jonas Hermansson, architect at Liljewall.

In certain cases, an architect’s vision takes shape as unique projects and products. Sometimes, it’s because the market lacks a specific piece of furniture, while in other instances, the architect or designer harbors a clear product concept. Regardless of the circumstances, Nola’s extensive experience in product development and flexible production capabilities make them a reliable partner.

When Jonas at Liljewall approached Nola with the idea of collaborating on the remark­able CLT bench, in its distinctive red, Nola enthusiastically embraced the opportunity.

The Gällivare Bench by Liljewall Arkitekter, was purposefully designed for Kunskapshuset in Gällivare and was honored with the Swedish Gold Chair Award (Guldstolen) for best interior design 2022.

In the Kärrtorp square you can see the Ultuna sofa in Sioox treated oak and powder coated steel and a special table with retractable benches, designed by Daniel Ericsson and Bengt Isling. Bengt is also one of the Architects and responsible for the design of the square.

A similar request came from architect Bengt Isling when he was tasked with rejuvenating the square in Kärrtorp center in Stockholm. His challenge was to preserve the essence of the original 1950s architecture while introducing new features based on feedback from the local community. One of the suggestions was to host flea markets in the square. This led to the concept of a long table with retractable benches, a novel idea that lacked off-the-shelf solutions. Bengt reached out to Nola for assistance.

– I would never have been able to design or construct that table on my own, so it was only natural to contact Nola, which possesses both the expertise and experience to craft high-quality furniture. It’s reassuring to entrust an idea to capable hands. Otherwise, one would never dare to conceive unique designs, says Bengt Isling.

The development of the tables with retract­able benches presented its fair share of challenges, with numerous variables complicating the process. As far as Bengt knows, these tables remain one-of-a-kind globally — a feature that residents and visitors likely appreciate.

– Creating unique furniture for a place isn’t an end in itself, but it brings a sense of care to the site. Having the opportunity to introduce elements that stand out from the norm is philo­sophically intriguing and sets them apart, reflects Bengt.

“Creating unique furniture for a place isn’t an end in itself, but it brings a sense of care to the site.”

Bengt Isling, architect

As a result of a project at Vasagatan in Västerås, the popular Kajen bench was developed in a wall-mounted version. Now available as part of the standard seating collection.

The ability to offer that extra touch, some­thing specific that endears a place to the hearts of visitors, continues to drive Nola to develop special projects alongside the regular furniture range.

– Today, it’s easy to get the impression that the norm in furniture production is standard­isation and efficiency, with the hope that one form or piece of furniture can serve a multitude of functions and places. Our special projects demonstrate the opposite — that design emerging from its context contributes to specific experiences. Design, along with the entire design process, has the potential to change attitudes and contribute to understanding the value of the site-specific. This is something we need more of, says Henrik Edlund, Nola's CEO.