Late Winter is an exciting time for product and furniture retailers - Design fairs are happening all around Europe and with it the launch of new designs that may have been in the making for years. Last week we took a trip to Stockholm for the Furniture & Light Fair and to explore the other design events dotted around the city. Here's a few of the things we saw and a sneak peek into some new things coming your way soon.

We arrived into Stockholm the day before the fair so we thought we'd spend a little time exploring. Based in Söder we were ideally placed to visit the majority of independent design shops and only a 15 minute drive North from Stockholmsmässen where the fair is held. It was beautifully sunny so we took a walk to the highest natural point in Stockholm - Skinnavikberget. In the summer this is where the locals like to meet up for a picnic, a few drinks and take in the view over to Gamla Stan. This is the 'old town' - a preserved Medieval area where the city started. It was -5℃ on this day however, so we had the place to ourselves.

If you haven't been to Stockholm before you might not be aware that the city is spread over 14 islands, with over 50 bridges and ferries linking them together. The Archipelago continues around it and is made up of around 4000 islands, many with no residents at all! The water at the edges of the Islands was frozen, but further out where it started to break up it created an opaque collage of ice. It's nice to be able to experience little natural wonders in the built up environment, by contrast Winter in London can be a little bleak on occasions. It's easy to imagine how amazing the Archipelago would be in the Summer, scooting island-to-island in a boat must be great fun.

Lewis at Skinnaviksberget

Skinnaviksberget Stockholm

We walked around the city for most of the day popping into shops we know and ones we didn't to warm up, Granit was a good new discovery of note. Of course we were in Sweden so we obviously took some time to enjoy a little 'Fika' (afternoon tea but anytime of the day). Cardamom buns from Fabrique are a particular favourite and you'll be pleased to hear that you can buy them in the UK too. There are at the time of writing, four stores dotted around London.

The next day was completely focussed on searching for the latest design developments and maybe discovering some brands we weren't familiar with. We hadn't been to the fair before so we didn't know what to expect - it was a fairly standard approach and did seem a bit clinical, but a few brands managed to bring a bit of warmth to proceedings.

String's stand was within a typical house vernacular, on the white walls they had created perfect examples of how all their design elements can be combined for different uses. String always knows how to style something and the objects they chose to display explained each concept perfectly. A new item to look out for is a slimmed down version of the cabinet with sliding doors - they have fitted it with mirrored glass and the cabinet now serves as the ideal bathroom hideaway.

There was the Turn Coat Stand on the Skagerak stand that caught our eyes. It's light, a little ornate looking and perfectly flat-packed for affordable worldwide delivery. We also spotted some new leather cushions for the Hven chair and bench range which looked fantastic. Leather seat pads are definitely a micro-trend of the moment and we will be adding new options for quite a few of our chairs in the coming months.

We've been following the Norwegian brand Northern Lighting for a while and they have been diligently adding more and more pieces that we think would work well on Really Well Made. For the design fair they completely surprised us and rebranded to simply 'Northern'. They launched some really exciting new pieces with ideas that seemed fresh, new and unlike anything we've seen before. They describe their approach as 'Creative expression meets traditional craft; laid-back luxury and cutting-edge cool with Nordic style'. All the pieces were stand-out in their ideas and form but if we were to pick a favorite it would be 'Heat' - A pendant lamp formed from a gleaming brass mesh and crafted into a gold floating cloud. Hopefully we will count Northern as a new design partner soon.

Making their mark in their home country, Design House Stockholm had one of the largest stands for their burgeoning product collection. The highlight was the new 'Luna' and 'Kosmos' lights and the extension of the Arco range to include tables and benches. On first glance Luna just looks like another spherical illuminated orb. However on closer inspection you will find that much work has been made to perfect the design and in doing so make something new. The fitting for attaching the pendant to the ceiling is an ultra-minimal construction of glass and plastic - giving this light almost 100% coverage of illumination. When you install Luna or Kosmos you will illuminate the entire ceiling where there once would have been darkened areas. It creates a moon like effect, hence the name. Kosmos is the same lamp as Luna but with an optional attachment which almost lassos the moon-like object. It also has a nautical feel to it, a bit like a buoy and its rope.

We've known Massproductions founder Chris Martin for a long time, back when we were all practicing designers. It was great to catch up with Chris on Massproductions biggest stand to date. There we saw the newly revised Waiter Chair and the Icha Chair. Icha is a dining chair with a steam-bent backrest in oak or beech and is an aesthetically contemporary update of a classic bentwood chair. It's just won the Swedish Elle Decoration's chair of the year award and it too will be joining the RWM collection in the next few weeks.