Design icon Jonas Bohlin’s exhibition inside a factory highlights the rise of local production

Fredrik Ehrnström, CEO of Örsjö Belysning: ”We still produce our lighting products here in our own factory and reach 80% of our suppliers within a two-hour drive from the factory.”
November 23, 2022

In the heart of The Kingdom of Crystal — a region in southern Sweden known for its glass production — there’s also room for other businesses to thrive. Lighting company Örsjö Belysning, based in the city of Nybro, has shown that local, small-scale production is the key to making quality products equitably and sustainably over the past 75 years.

— We still produce our lighting products here in our own factory and reach 80% of our suppliers within a two-hour drive from the factory, says Fredrik Ehrnström. There aren’t that many producers of lighting that actually covers all parts of the production. For us, it is basically a piece of metal at one end of the factory and a complete lamp in a box at the other end. We see it as handicraft work and keep many of the machines from the 70s in full operation. Having our own production also gives us great flexibility, creating customized lighting for commercial projects where we develop lights for hotels, restaurants, and offices.

The entire interior design sector saw rapid growth during the pandemic and your numbers — a 30% revenue growth — are strong. What’s the secret?

— We have invested a lot in our brand. During the pandemic, we saw that the retail customers invested in ’safe and timeless design and quality’ and many of them turned to us and our classic products. We also managed to land a number of large hotels and office projects that were in the pipeline when the pandemic started.

What did you learn from this growth journey?

— I started exactly when the pandemic started — in many ways a crazy start and period, Ehrnström shares. I have changed the management towards being more sales and marketing-oriented but kept the production and material philosophy that has always been the platform for the company. We need to be even closer to the market and expand internationally but we will do so in a healthy way from inside and out. I am convinced that our strategy with local production of premium lighting and flexibility in bespoke custom-designed products is the key.

Saker. Photography: Jonas Sällberg

Last weekend, one of the leading interior designers in the Nordics, Jonas Bohlin, took over Örsjö Belysning’s factory in Nybro. Inside the factory, he showcased new and older design objects from his 42 years old long career — including 20-something working with Örsjö Belysning — in the exhibition Saker (Things).

— It’s called Saker because it’s not only about the finished objects but also the materials that they’re made of — that is also things. And, so are the machines making them, Bohlin explains.

— Jonas has talked for a long time about doing an installation and installation with his products from various producers integrated into our running production, says Fredrik Ehrnström. It is a huge task that requires a lot of planning and work and we decided to go for it during the dark and boring period of November.

Jonas, how come you show it inside a factory?

— I wanted to add another dimension. When these things are shown in a different place than usual, it opens up to look at them with different eyes. They become something else — or something less.

What do they become?

— Themselves.

Can you share any highlights from the exhibition?

— I don’t have any. Some of the objects have followed me for a longer period than others but they’re all just as valuable. I don’t think that beautiful things are more interesting than ugly things…