by Rhonda Eleish August 10, 2021 3 min read

What is the essence of Swedish design?

There is a purity to Scandinavian Design and it’s often inspired by nature but also geometry and clarity. With simple patterns or designs, every stroke of a brush becomes important. And somehow, I think that Scandi design looks ahead. Even the older designs. They don’t seem to be afraid of not constantly recreating the past.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I think, like most designers, I find inspiration everywhere. The things I see, places I travel to.  Being around beautiful things is always inspiring for me. It can be anything…art, flowers, a piece of fruit. Emotion too. The emotion I like best, of course, is happy. It is important to me that my work has a ‘sense of hand’ as well. I think it gives character.

 

What is your process to produce your products?

I paint my original patterns and then think about them a lot before sending them to the factory for production. Of course, in the end, since I am making products to be used and not just as paintings I need to consider the product itself and how people will use it. I also need to consider how it sits with the other items in a collection.

How sustainable are your production processes?

For many years, I have worked with the same small family owned factories.

What makes your line unique?

Well, it’s designed by me so in that sense it is very personal. I change things and evolve from season to season. But at the end of the day, it is me and that really does not change that much.  Sometimes I look back on sketches from 20 plus years ago and they still very much represent my hand. I hope that is a good thing. 

 

Can you remember the first time that design really made an impact on you?

Yes. When I first was exposed to Marimekko at their store on 56th street in NYC.  I was amazed at how much color and power was there. It was a real awakening. Then of course it was a dream when I started to work for them about 12 years later in their U.S. studio. I remember when I started, it was so satisfying working closely with people who appreciated and loved the images and things that I loved. It was amazing. I spent a lot of time in Finland working in the designer’s studios there too. It was a privilege.

What’s the most treasured item in your home? 

That is hard to decide because I am definitely a “things” person! I do get emotionally attached to things, partly because they remind me of a time or place or because they are beautiful and inspiring. I have a very large Noguchi floor lamp in my bedroom. It’s big but I have it on top of a built in cabinet which makes it seem even bigger. The soft light it casts, the moon-like round glowing shape, the changing color of its rice paper shade….I find it stunning. I also have a beautiful wooden outdoor dining table made of mahogany which a furniture maker friend made for me. It is as much like a sculpture as a place to gather and eat. I could go on with more items…

What do you still dream about achieving with your designs?

I guess I still want to be inspired by them, meaning finding joy in their creation. I want to be able to keep making things that make me visually happy. It is very personal because design is so many things beyond the object. It is problem solving. It has to be manufactured and often by other’s hands. 

 

What’s the most important design lesson you’ve learnt?

Well, there are many. I have been learning them for many years. But I guess one that I keep having to remind myself of, is to push and take risks. Trying things that may seem crazy or weird at the time can really pay off. Also editing is so important. I really work more than ever to edit out and take away things from a collection. It’s hard at the time, but it makes the end result so much clearer.


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