The snow nearly came and we all had a great break. Needless to say at 5 am on New Year's Eve we had talked up a fantastic win for England in the World Cup. The Christmas P.U. ended up playing "hi-low" in the Swindon megabowl. Anyway it's back on the pace now and I have just returned from a 2 day invitational visit to Sweden to discuss the possibility of making some of my designs. My account of the trip is below. We installed Richard and Alison's decorative shelving unit just before Christmas and I will be putting a pic up at the next update. My still camera and Panasonic vid were stolen in Barcelona Airport, along with my original footage of Gaudi's Casa Milà. I am so gutted that, if by fate someone finds it, please send it back. Happy New Year.

Having been approached by Anders Wisth of SFCG at 100% Design last year, I was invited to visit Sweden along with fellow designer Chris Eckersely and Alan West, boss of Trombè. SFCG stands for The Swedish Furniture Component Group and the idea was to visit 6 factories to see if there was common ground to manufacture various furniture components. Unlike the UK, where the probability of part A fitting part B is about 5/2 against, Sweden has the same technical approach to woodworking as we do engineering. The word "nominal" is not used as an excuse for a crap fit.

The tour took off from Stansted Airport at 07.00, flying out on RyanAir for £26 return. The in-flight drinks cost more than the flight but for this deal to happen RyanAir has to be the new umbilical cord to the Swedish factories. We landed at Gothenburg and hit the tour running. Anders is the main man and it is his vision that has inspired the opening salvo. The tour bus was a Chrysler and we landed in to the hotel that night knackered. It was the biggest wooden structure in the northern hemisphere but, set in the middle of a pine forest, it brought thoughts of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Light deprivation, a lack of anything to spend your money on and a max of 0.2 mg. booze to blood ratio, caused a general feeling of the bizarre. Peter Mathers from the British Embassy, David Jackson, an entrepreneur/civil engineer of 20 years living in Sweden and Anna Peterson were our fellow dinner guests.

They start work at 07.00 so it was another early start. What we saw in the factories was seriously impressive. They are highly equipped in both machinery and CAD software to drive it. Slightly worrying that the usual girlie calendars had been substituted for fir tree calendars but I put that down to the lack of daylight. We were made immensely welcome and Alan and Chris had already pioneered the first deal (next time in Euros) for a bench which is being sold in Conran's shops and is about to scoop a design award. After an interview from the local journo, Alan became uncharacteristically shy when asked about The Blue Moose.

We also toured round a large modern retail store where we hope to have a "British Design Week". The receptionist was very keen and served up a blistering kind of Swedish cream tea. Chris and I had a great laugh looking at some "size discrimination furniture": one chair that only the likes of Kate Moss could use and the other a TV slumper with hydraulic lift that Jim Royle would have been proud of. Possible dates for the British Design input are early June but I did mention to Anders that it might all go a bit frosty after the football. (Eng. v Swe. World Cup opener June 2). We hoped to visit Sven's birthplace but it proved a forest too far.

The Mayor turned up for dins that night with some of the various directors of the factories and a great line in shoes. We were up and away back to the airport at 05.30. It was an amazing trip and I seriously believe some good business will come from it.

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