Interview with Jan Sjöwall

Jan Sjöwall started his carrier in direct-marketing and logistics. In 1988. For 21 years he was in leading positions in the Kinnevik Group.

He founded TV-Shop which became Europe’s largest home shopping company with activities in 16 countries. He also pioneered E-commerce with CDON, which today is a listed company in Sweden and a leading Scandinavian E-commerce group. He was appointed CEO for Metro International in 1998 with one task, to build the most read newspaper title in the world, a goal that was fulfilled a few yeas later.

After the IPO 2000 he continued as Senior VP to expand Metro to Asia, Latin America and Russia and hence made the successful franchise concept that Metro now use.

When quitting Kinnevik 2009 he decided to work with start-ups in sectors where new technology brings new opportunities. LED-lighting is one of them. And he founded the Swedish Aaxsus, that is engaged in the development and marketing of LED products. The company is an importer and developer of LED light sources and its drive electronics.

We have had the opportunity to ask him about the lighting sector and as we thought, he had some interesting views and perspectives to add.


How would you say that the lighting sector has developed during your years working in the sector?

Like most tech sectors in its beginning the development is very fast. We early determined that Aaxsus chance as a small player in a global market is to have know-how and early adopt new components as well as constantly challenge the existing designs and try to improve them. As a small manufacturer with short series we can apply the latest technology and bring it to market faster. We located the company to Lund which can be compared as the “Silicon Valley” of Sweden, in order to get easy access to resources in R&D. Most development by the industry so far has been to save energy, and to resemble the light quality we been used to. Making light which looks and behaves like the old bulbs, dimability etc. The next phase will be to use all the new possibilities the LED technology brings.

Is there a greater demand today to continuing progressing the lighting sector, does it develop faster than before?

Still there is a learning curve by consumers and business customers regarding LED. Most consumers still believe that the light is measured in Watts since a 25W old lamp has weaker light than a 60W.

The knowledge about how light affects health and well being is not known as well as the possibilities. It’s quite recently the third receptor in the eye that triggers physiological processes was discovered (2002). Currently cutting edge research is made in this field, which we hope will lead to new insights and new products, which improves peoples life.

We have heard a bit about Smart lighting, can you tell us what it is and how you are working with it?

Smart Lighting is a wide description of lighting systems that deliver more than the usual “opposite to darkness”. It includes practical solutions such as remotely control and preset your home to the possibility that light itself can carry information with terms like “Internet of everything”, collecting “Big Data”, and now also systems to deliver a light which contributes to well being and prevention of medical problems. Aaxsus is one of the founding members of Inside Light which is an organization with the objective to interlink the latest research with companies and users.

Hence we are working very close with Lund University. Currently our MD for instance is engaged in a research project, started on Aaxsus initiative which shall result in a more effective light for schools and offices.

What other tendencies/trends would you like to see within the sector? Is there something that you miss?

I think the government shall take a larger responsibility to educate the market, by for instance by consumer information about LED. They can also help R&D by making innovation tenders for practical applications, instead of just buying old tech “safe” solutions. This will challenge manufacturers of both components, lamps and lighting systems and hence help to create the future market.

Thank you so much Jan, to visit the website of Aaxsus click here.

ECOALF – Javier Goyeneche

We had the chance to get an interview with Javier Goyeneche, the founder and president of ECOALF, a very interesting fashion brand that uses recycled fabrics, and the PET material is one of them. They’ve gained success and currently 80% of turnover is international. Their clients are for example; Harvey Nichols (London). Barneys (NY). Blomingdales (USA), Bon Marche (Paris), Merci (Paris) and United Arrows (Japan). They’ve also developed exclusive collections for example Apple, Bareys and GOOP (Gwyneth Paltrow WEB)

Javier told us his story and then we talked about recycling materials and the future and demand for sustainable materials.


ECOALF started following the birth of Javiers first son Alfredo. The idea was to create a truly sustainable fashion brand. He didn’t think it would be sustainable to continue to use natural resources of the planet. Recycling could be a solution if they were able to create a new generation of recycled products, with the same design and quality as the best non-recycled products in the world.

When they started it only existed a small percentage of recycled fabrics (only 20-30% of the tissue was recycled) and with very coarse textures. It was then to the disappointment of the existing supply that he started to travel around the world, looking for factories to make alliances with. Through investment in R & D he started to create new tissues 100% recycled together with fashion textures. ECOALF was created 4 years ago, but the first 2 years were only about investment in R&D.

Do you think that customers are willing to pay for products that have considered values ​​such as energy saving, recycling and reuse, although these are a bit more expensive than products that haven’t been taken it into account? Is there a demand for these products?

The first thing I always say is that clients generally and whether they like the concept and philosophy of the company or not, they will buy the product because they like the design and quality. I’m the first to say that I wouldn’t buy a swimsuit recycled from fish net if I don’t like the color, design and quality. In any case our products in many occasions have lower price than many products that haven’t taken into account these values.

How will spaces be designed in the future, with natural and reusable materials maybe?

In my opinion not only the workplaces, but also the cars, buildings etc. will all be made with a large % of recycled and recyclable materials.

Do you know about the PET as a recycled material? Would you use it?

Of course! We use a lot of recycled PET. Polyester is a material 100% introduced in the area of clothing, carpets etc.

Do you really believe in this concept, with recycled and resusable products in the industry, or do you just think its a trend?

I think otherwise. I think we design for a new generation of consumers, sensitive for fashion, but are looking for something more, an added value. People who seek brands that representing values ​​with which they can identify. Increasingly, people need something to believe in, something authentic, committed products, something that makes you feel part of a story. Each of our products has a great story to tell!

Thank you Javier!

To visit their website, click here.

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Anna Leckström “We are searching for different types of light, depending on where we live”

We hade the pleasure to interview Anna Lecktström, a Swedish designer that together with Kolbrún Leósdóttir runs the company formforyou. They have for example designed the well known restaurant Jonas in Stockholm.  Anna is also on the board for the Swedish Lighting Society. We asked her about the market for lighting and environment.

Anna Leckstrom

Regarding lighting and illumination for buildings and properties, do you think that today there is a greater demand than previously on energy saving and environmentally friendly materials?

Yes I think so , and especially if you look at the projects in a public sector, and especially then maybe municipalities and governments who have the eyes on them in a completely different way then others. Even if you always do it with your heart because you are really passionate about certain issues, but also somewhere that it should be like that, and that they must adhere to certain requirements and restrictions. This applies to both lighting and energy saving, but also other materials.  So I’m sure that there is a greater demand for it today.

Then I think it is a bit different between the public and private customers. Among individuals, there are probably a demand, but it’s a fact that the price tag of products and materials based on energy saving is a bit more expensive. Even if it comes to mind that if you choose an energy efficient light source, in a longer term you have saved the extra money it cost at the purchase of the product. Try to justify it from a longer term perspective, than a short term.

In Sweden, one is more aware of what you do today, you are thinking of food waste, but also more and more about wich material to use, and buying more organic food etc. We are about to become more aware of what we use.

Yes definitely, and I think we had this “green thinking” influence about 10 years ago. But then it didn’t really bloom. But now, I really think it has done that, and people are more aware of everything, regarding what we’re talking about, but also in terms of organic food, locally produced and so on. So I think there is a realization today, then we have not come all the way and this kind of products are still more expensive , which means that for example a family with children that dosen’t have a big monthly income, of course not only can buy organic products for example.

If you then as a designer and as someone who will do a room attractive, with the idea of ​​energy saving and environmental awareness. Do you get inspired by such kind of challenge or are you thinking that  it is too difficult and complicated?

I definitely think it’s inspiring ! I would see it as a challenge to try to get the customers to see the benefits. Today, people are talking a lot about for example sponsor a child or similar and  many companies use it in their marketing. I think that it’s also a way to push in interior designer projects . If  you can get the customer to understand that they not only do something good, they are also saving the energy and the environment etc. But if they are still doubtful, get them to understand how they can use the things they do for a good cause  in their marketing. Many companies are doing it and it becomes a part of their “this is us, we take a position.” So I think that’s a good push point too, at least when we ‘re talking business and public settings, to get them to choose energy saving materials and products.

If you then get to think freely, what do you see within the market for lighting, but also if you miss something within design, function and  attribute?

Yes, lately people here are talking a lot about LED.  A lot has changed and the LED seems to become the new standard. But what I often find with the LED, even thou it’s getting better and better and all products including LED are dropping in price,  is that I still think there is a gap between technological solutions and energy saving LED models, versus what we ‘re talking about with a warmer light. And then if you then go back to a traditional incandescent. The geography plays a major role in this. Here in the north we have a cold climate, it’s winter and it’s dark six months of the year. Here we want to have a warm light. In compare to if you for example travel to southern Europe and enters a restaurant and then it’s like, fluorescent lamps. That’s something else that we don’t seek. And, I think one would need to work more with the LED, in question for it to be easier to aim or make it warmer, so that it gets a more humane light and becomes more accessible.

Another thing that I’m thinking of is more of a product reflection. It already exists, but I have not found any one that I think is particularly good looking, if you choose to go on the aesthetic. And it is rechargeable, smaller luminaries. If you’re imagining a restaurant, you are assuming that there will be candlelights, and that’s fantastic. But it also means a certain risk with candles and if it then would be some type of development of a small luminaire that still gives this small, almost intimate light, but would be rechargeable. Then it would be some type of docking center so that you could just pick them up and set out on the tables, just as you would tune out a candle. I’d like to see this in environments such as restaurants, cafes and bars.

If you let your imagination run free and think of something that would be useful for illumination in the future. What do you think of then?

One thing that would be interesting to explore more, is the Tunable Light that is being talked about a lot at this moment, it  means that in a single luminaire, in a single light source, we can have different color temperatures. In the same light source , the light can go from for example cold to warm. Then you can control the type of light temperature that you want. For the chosen purpose. Because if we go back to the bars and restaurants, daytime , then you might want a type of light, the evening another type. Spring, Winter another and then think of if you could combine it into a single light source. It would be very interesting if one could develop luminaires for that purpose.

And then also the issue of daylight in Sweden. It has of course also a lot to do with that we live in a very dark country. And that we need daylight to feel good, and you lose so much of the light in a room, if you will just step away at 1 meter from a window, so I also believe there is still a lot to do with the daylight illumination.

Another thing I think you see more and more also are these control systems, one well known company is KNX . The concept is advanced, where you can control all the lighting activity in a room. And you see this more and more also for home interiors. One might ask why it would be good? But just think of being at home and knowing that you’ve forgot to turn the light off in the kitchen, but your’re sitting in the living room watching television and don’t want to get up and turn the light off . Imagining then that you have this kind of control, it can be linked to a smartphone, a tablet , etc. so you just switch off  the light that way. This is also a product in this segment that will be developed much more,  it will be much easier and user friendly for everyone.


Thank you so much for the interview Anna! To visit the website formforyou, click  here. For their fan page on Facebook, you follow this link and to visit the Swedish Lighting Society, click  here.

With that said, we wish you all a Happy Easter!

Emilio Cubillos Gimeno: “I would use PET as a material”

On this blog we will publish interviews we are making with people with different knowledge, like for example, architects, interior designers, researchers, manufacturers etc.  Regarding their knowledge of the market and their job titles we find it interesting to know their thoughts and opinions.

First out is Emilio Cubillos Gimeno, a Spanish architect working for the firm Jaime Sanahuja Asociados in Valencia. A firm that since its establishment in the late 80′s, has based their projects on criteria’s of quality, innovation and creativity, with the objective to match  the level of architecture in Valencia with the best Spanish and international architecture.

We asked him about his thoughts regarding lighting products, and his experience as an architect working with lighting materials and design, when constructing properties and buildings.

His opinion is that the demand for energy saving products is broader today than before, regarding the increasing energy prices in Spain, and that the awareness of the environment not yet has a part in it. Therefore, he don’t think that the customers generally find it possible to pay more money for products where values like reuse, recycling and energy saving has been taking in to account.

With that said, a lot would have to do with the financial situation in Spain. “People seek the maximum possible economy savings at the expense of all ethical, moral or whatever you call values, including the environmental aspects”, he says.


When asking him what he are missing in the area of lighting products, he answers “luminaries with wireless controls to avoid the tangle of wiring that occurs on walls and ceilings“. The different types of Lutron systems, that already exists on the market, he also believe will be a part of the future lighting systems.

Finally, we wanted to know if he knows about the PET material, as you will know as a material commonly used to contain soft drinks. We think it’s a very interesting material, partly because it has a lower environmental impact than for example aluminium, and because  it’s a recyclable material. Emilio knows about the material and sees no reason why not using it in his work, particularly since he has an interest for recyclable materials.

We give our thanks to Emilio for his time and thoughts. Visit the architect firm here.