Question! Why do some of world’s most innovative and best loved companies hail from the North?
When you think about some of the most innovative companies in the world, it’s without a doubt you’ll put at least three Swedish companies on the top of your list (IKEA, H&M,Ericsson – right?). But what is it about the Swedish mentality that makes this country so forward-thinking?
2018 has yet again seen Sweden topping the Global Innovation Index. Additionally, Sweden is set to reach its 2030 renewable energy goal THIS YEAR. Yes, that is 12 years ahead of schedule.
So, what does Sweden know that the rest of the world doesn’t? Could it be that the answer is a single word? No, not hygge. “Lagom”, pronounced lar-ghom.
Lagom means not too little, not too much. During the centuries it was used to highlight the importance of balance, often in a team – the benefit of the group far outweighs the benefit of the individual. However, in success, everyone gets a fair share, not too little, not too much. Lagom is about being more flexible, more democratic which allows for a company culture where everyone’s ideas are considered. Here’s how some of the world’s best-known Swedish brands exhibit precisely this behavior, starting with none other than everyone’s favorite name in furniture, nay, lifestyle…
Founded in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA has grown into an industry giant that is present in 38 countries, including the notoriously difficult to break Asian market. Most famous for its flat pack solution for easy transportation, you probably didn’t know that an IKEA worker named Gillis Lundgren spontaneously invented the flat pack in the 1950s. That’s lagom in action! This year IKEA is celebrating its 75th anniversary with an array of incredibly cool collaborations with brands and designers like adidas, Teenage Engineering, Virgil Abloh, Tom Dixon and Saint Herron, just to name a few, thus firmly positioning itself not only as a furniture maker, but a tastemaker in the fields of fashion, sports, technology… We cannot wait to see what’s next!
Who hasn’t heard about Ericsson? They are the company that made modern communication possible! They launched the first smartphone, invented Bluetooth, launched the first LTE networks… and so many more inventions that make modern communications as we use it today possible. Originally started as a telegraph equipment repair shop in 1876 by Lars Magnus Ericsson, Ericsson remains at the forefront of communications innovation due to the company’s approach that sees them collaborate with various universities and research institutions around the world.
Some people claim they don’t own anything by H&M. Impossible! If you somehow missed walking into one of its 2,500 stores around the world, you probably still have something from H&M without even realizing it. You see, not only is Hennes & Mauritz the master of selling trendy clothes and accessories at affordable prices, it also owns hugely successful brands like COS, &Other Stories, Cheap Monday, Monki, Arket, Weekday and Nyden. They were the first to launch super successful collabs with high-end designers and are keen on innovation. Case in point: their stylish recycled collections, and kudos for becoming a natural beauty advocate by ending retouching on all bikini models!
FOREO, short for “For Every One”, offers a new standard of beauty and wellbeing solutions, from the award-winning facial cleansing brushes in its LUNA line, inventing a whole new way to mask courtesy of UFO, to reinventing the toothbrush with ISSA. Founded by Bosnian-born Swede Filip Sedic in 2013, it has a bold approach: the brand doesn’t just improve existing designs – FOREO tears them down and restarts from the ground up – ensuring the best solutions are not reserved for the wealthy few. FOREO promotes self-confidence: when you feel good, you look good – mission complete!
If you haven’t had a Skype call or formed a chat group with your family or friends, are you even alive? Founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and Dane Janus Friis, Skype made staying connected while living apart possible, and probably singlehandedly saved millions of relationships. The product was so radical that it inspired dozens of copycat programs that changed everyone’s lives for the better, and is now an integral part of Microsoft OS.
Ava Paine is a beauty aficionado, amateur dancer and keen DIY master. This Aussie is far, far from home.