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A conversation with Cristian Lind, founder of Temporärt and Contem
Cristian Lind is someone who cannot be described in just a few sentences. A prolific second hand enthusiast, many will say, who has turned his reverence for old unique pieces into a modest-yet-successful business, working around the clock with a diversity of clients. But this description doesn’t do it justice. He is as prolific a collector as he is creative with and visionary about a better future for the planet.
Our visit to Cristian’s studio, also known as Temporärt, couldn’t possibly have been timed better. The sun was out, making its presence known through the centuries-old window frames of a space that he knows all too well, casting that typical mellow morning light on some of his most cherished pieces of furniture which he specifically chose for this occasion.
In the 40 minutes that he spared for us, we covered a wide variety of topics, from his personal background immersed in the world of furniture and flea markets to modern-day consumer culture and his mission to make his mark on it, with less but better things. Have a read below.
Who are you and what is your background?
I’m 32 years old and grew up on Kungsholmen, not far from this studio, on the other side of this park (Kronobergsparken). This space previously belonged to my dad and was used as a warehouse for furniture. He’d bring me to flea markets and auction houses every weekend - I was always immersed in second-hand. When I was 11 years old, I started buying and selling pieces as a hobby, so his profession eventually became my own. I guess you could say it runs in our blood.
And eventually, it turned into Temporärt?
I saw an opportunity to apply my own vision to the space and the things I had been collecting.
Could you explain what Temporärt is all about?
Temporärt isn’t easy to describe in a few words. It’s constantly been in an ongoing state of flux where I’m finding and developing new concepts and approaches to both second-hand furniture and sustainable solutions in general. I’m fortunate to work with a diversity of clients and collaborators who value authenticity.
So what do your clients usually use the space for?
The space primarily serves as a photo studio. I’m there to support with setting up, styling furniture, light direction, etc. Anything to help create and define the aesthetic and story.
You travel a lot, what are your go-to destinations, and why?
I regularly visit the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. They’re where I initially found lots of the pieces that I still own and cherish today. I’m not particularly goal-orientated when I travel - I try to be open to unexpected finds. After 12 years of doing this, you get pretty good at spotting items with potential. It’s essentially a gut feeling and just trusting what you believe in. I travel around Sweden as well but it’s harder to find pieces at a decent price nowadays.
It must be very satisfying to find and select pieces of history and educate people about them.
Their history is a big part of it for sure. I think my approach to selecting pieces is more intuitive, I am interested in the way they feel and what the specific piece has gone through physically. I am drawn to stuff from the really early days, like the 40s and 50s. It’s my way of showing that these things have been used and working for so many years, are still functioning as well as ever, and have the potential to live on. When I sell or use something for a project, I enjoy the fact that the piece has both a significant past and a long potential future ahead of it. I like seeing it becoming a part of someone else's story.
What about this other project you are working on: Contem?
I founded Contem with Jack, an architect, and an old friend of mine. We’d always wanted to work on something together and the idea started with us renovating my summer house on Väddö. While breaking down the walls, we realized they were made of a very nice type of dry wood, perfect to serve as the material for something like a stool. After a week we had created said stool. A month later we discovered a container filled with discarded wood from the inner walls of a house in Södermalm. We took some of it and made our first chair. At that point, we felt we were onto something: making furniture without using any new materials, just waste. Now we work almost exclusively with two categories of reclaimed wood either from construction sites or trees that have been taken down due to disease or development. As a result, there’s very little climate footprint.
Say I want to buy something from Contem, how would I go about doing that?
At the moment, it’s all exclusively made-to-order through our website or Instagram and consists of a small collection of chairs, stools, coffee tables, and benches. It’s early days but we’re excited to see how things progress.
How has your background in furniture influenced the direction your current projects have taken?
My past has very likely informed my ability to understand design and whether a particular object has functional value or not. But making a well-designed piece is just one thing. To truly create something appealing to an audience is about the ability to tell a story and put it in the right context. If you want to create something that means something to people, you have the responsibility to explain why it’s important.
Do you have any specific intention for the pieces you make? Are they supposed to be treated, used or function in a particular way?
The pieces should be able to fit seamlessly in a high variety of environments and contexts, be it a private home, an office, or some kind of public space. My wish is that the pieces we produce will be well-worn and well-loved.
Is there an appeal to used objects to you personally?
When I was younger, I used to buy second-hand clothes because it allowed me to wear nicer things for relatively low prices. Then as I got older, I gained an interest in learning about the history of an object by asking sellers about the piece’s purpose, where it has been used, and what it had gone through physically. When I’m sourcing, I’m most drawn to something that’s still functioning as well as ever and has the potential to live on. That’s where the value lies for me – uncovering its story and seeing it become part of someone else’s.
This increasing diversity in sub-cultures, niches and tastes you see in today’s generation I suppose, also impacts the way you work?
I try to surround myself with people who can challenge my way of thinking and doing. It provides a fresh perspective and helps to get a better understanding of what’s new and relevant today, which is key in evolving my approach. I think many companies make the mistake of not paying close attention to what’s happening around them and how younger generations are connecting, influencing, and inspiring. They just end up catering to the same audience with a size only bound to dwindle over time.
At the same time, the pressure on everyone is increasing to continuously adapt and innovate.
There’s definitely a pressure to always expose yourself to the outside world in a new and creative way. You have to have your finger on the pulse, and if you’re not on social media these days, you pretty much don’t exist. It goes both ways though - on the one hand, the landscape has become tougher, but easier in the sense that you can establish a business’s presence.
What’s “value” in clothing to you?
I look for quality and functionality. Clothing needs to be able to endure the things I do daily (lifting and moving furniture, etc.). I don’t want to feel like I need to be too careful with the things I wear.
How do you respond to a stain getting on one of your more cherished garments?
I see it as becoming a part of the piece, a part of its history.
What do you see for the future of fashion and its challenges with sustainability?
While fast fashion will continue to encourage over-consumption, I can see that there’s a younger generation buying a lot more second-hand than 10 years ago. What seemed an odd practice previously, is now a promising standard. So much inspiration can be found in vintage pieces and in the end, the key will always be quality and longevity.
Do you have any long term goals in mind?
For Temporärt, to continue challenging the business conceptually and to keep developing our own brand, Contem. The projects are all about trying to positively impact the furniture industry. One essential aspect, aside from the minimization of waste, is to bring back jobs to local carpenters and craftspeople. The other part is to influence the industry to think differently.
Do you have any favorite piece in here which you would like to talk about?
This architect's table we’re currently sitting at. It’s Swedish and was produced between 1930 and 1940 for manual prototyping work in factories. You can adjust its height as well as the angle of the tabletop to sit or stand at it. It’s a highly underrated piece of furniture so I try to source these whenever I can. Extremely heavy but a thing of beauty.