“Finglas varje dag." This is how Bobo is remaking the drinking experience
'Ethereal; something so light that it seems out of this world.' The perfect description of the scarily thin, barely-there glass in my hand. Mouth-blown crystal, so light it takes your mind a second to register that you’re holding something. And perfectly toeing the line between being beautiful enough to draw attention when empty, but letting its contents take centre stage when filled. Then comes the best part: when brought to your lips, you cannot feel the edge of the glass. There is only the drink.
I’m sitting in the playfully curated living room of Bobo’s two founders, Fredrik and Johanna Blom, a small collection of their glasses fanned out in front of me. They’re married, by the way (although they’re very clear that that’s not Bobo’s story, and would baulk at it being called their ‘Covid baby’). If you haven’t yet heard the name, Bobo is a glassware brand - sorry - “experience-ware brand,” as Fredrik just coined it. “Can I say that? I mean, the term doesn’t exist,” he asks. “..Yet,” Johanna chimes in. She’s the one who just managed to reduce the (somewhat confounding) experience of drinking from a Bobo glass into a neatly packaged, textbook definition of the word ‘ethereal.’
And it is an experience. One that’s been snapped up by pretty much every bar and restaurant at the forefront of the industry in Scandinavia. And whilst Fredrik and Johanna are modest, they know why. Because they’ve thought about something others may have missed. That it’s not only our sense of taste, smell and sight that determine our experience of a drink. There is also touch. Or lack thereof, in this case. “Most people don’t understand it at first, '' Johanna continues. “They ask ‘what is this,’ almost not daring to put the glass down for fear of breaking it. But then they go home and drink from their own glassware. And feel it: all the ways it distracts from what they’re drinking. They just can’t help but think, ‘I need those Bobo glasses’.”
Everything we owned was either cheap and mass produced, or pretentious, expensive and unattainable.
Of course, there are other glasses designed with the express intent of heightening the senses. The taste of a specific grape, for example, with different glasses for Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah. I could go on. Which, if Fredrik and Johanna are being honest, is kind of a pain in the neck. “For everyone, including the restaurateurs that now have to buy the entire arsenal of those glasses, just to not look ignorant. Which you do, if you serve the wrong wine in the wrong glass and your customer calls you out. Something that’s not difficult with the telltale engraving of ‘pinot noir’ on the foot.” explains Fredrik. Glasses that serve themselves best when saved for special occasions and expensive bottles. Bobo was made for every day, and every drink. Unpretentious, and most importantly, rule free.
Photo: Courtesy of Marigold Bar, Antwerp
“Why should well-made glasses, those that elevate your drinking experience, be reserved only for a handful of moments. Why not for an afterwork beer, or a glass of Oboy, or a Resorb?” Fredrik challenges. Why do you deny yourselves - their glasses seem to ask - when you could give yourself more pleasure every day? Because, before Bobo, crystal glasses were too pricey and too delicate to risk on the daily. When Johanna and Fredrik looked in their glass cupboard, they could see that something was missing. “Everything we owned was either cheap and mass produced, or pretentious, expensive and unattainable.” Bobo was made to fill that gap. “Finglas varje dag” (or “fine glasses every day”) was their first tagline. A little bit of luxury that won’t break the bank and that won’t break in the dishwasher.
Meaning, not only has Bobo created a new product, it's creating new habits. And consequently challenging the nature of the industry it's broken into. They don’t sell via retailers, which is almost unheard of for glassware. One, because Bobo’s strength lies in the experience, something you’re not going to get via a retailer anyways. Two, to avoid the commission, meaning better products at lower prices. Because Bobo is more interested in raising the experience of everyone’s daily life than reserving it for the lucky few. “No rules” also means not placing itself above the customers. “Bobo would never dumb things down, or tell someone how to use the glasses. It just wants to be a good product, one that’s easily accessible,” Johanna and Fredrik tell me. ‘The Bistro’, a classic wine glass, has been picked up by TV4’s beer expert as her favourite for on-air tasting. Which makes it the perfect antagonist to the “one glass for every grape” nonsense. It’s simple, an homage to the French wine farmer “who just wants a good glass of wine at the end of the day, and couldn’t care less how it’s served.” A product for the people, one with the same quality and a kinder price-point than their predecessors.
And the pros, the bartenders, they love them. Bobo’s branding, their lack of pomp and, above all, their product. Experts are often the earliest adopters, the ones to mimic. They recognise the value in a product before everyone else, because they know what to look for. Just a couple weeks post-launch, Hampus Thunholm of Röda Huset called to say that their glasses were exactly what he had been waiting for – slingshotting Bobo into the restaurant and bar world. Which is where Fredrik now spends the majority of his time. Not only on sales, but in connection to product development too.
Thin rim is the shit
Bobo’s most recent designs, the Drajja and the Boobette, were designed together with Mathin Lundgren, Emil Åreng and Erik Andersson; some of Sweden’s chief bartenders. Meaning that Bobo is working at the very forefront of drink evolution. Which has, according to Fredrik, reached such a high calibre that it’s a shame to leave a bar without sampling their entire menu. “Which you need smaller serves to do,” he explains, “unless you want to roll out of there completely wasted.” Meaning smaller glasses, such as the Drajja, designed after the perfect dry martini serve. Nothing like the shrimp cocktail glasses of today that fit half a bottle that quickly turns to room temperature, it's a tight V-shape and keeps every sip ice cold. “There’s a saying in the industry that the surest sign someone is a psychopath is if they’re drinking a lukewarm martini,” jokes Fredrik. And they’ve been all but eaten up, with culinary legend Frantszen recently placing a big order (with a capital B) for every one of their locations.
Photo: Courtesy of Marigold Bar, Antwerp
Bobo’s in the sweet spot. It has products that raise your standard of living (in a small way). It has the restaurant and bar industry wrapped around its little finger, which Fredrik fondly refers to as “the kindest industry in the world.” It’s snuggled itself into the narrow gap between getting attention but not stealing it away (“we’re just a medium, the conveyors of a drink”) existing nobly to raise said drink to its highest potential. All of which sounds (and most likely is) very hard to achieve. But to Bobo, it’s this simple: “Thin rim is the shit."