See Scandinavia and then have a baby’: that was the version of ‘see Naples and die’ of interior designer Jessy Van Durme and photographer Piet Albert Goethals. Now they are the proud parents of a son, Ivar, and the result of their journey through Scandinavia is available in shops and online: Scandinavian Designers at Work. It’s a book about design, but even more so it’s a book about people: young designers from the North with a passion for their work and clear vision on life. Like these 5:
1) Susanna Vento, Helsinki (FIN)
Susanna Vento is, among other things, the Finnish designer of the Varpunen sack, the ‘prototype’ bag for storage. She was inspired by plain advertising sheets used for billboards that she saw at het husband’s printing office, and realized it would make an ideal material for storing her daughter’s bath toys. Susanna’s background in styling and her interest in graphic design resulted in prints being added to the polyester sheets, and the end result was the first Varpunen sack. Susanna also published a DIY book, Omin Käsin, in 2013. It’s a collection of her own creations and a means for Susanna to openly share her work and encourage other people to create in a simple way. Each of the designs in the book radiates the same simplicity and logic, strengthened with the same pure graphic design.
2) Simon Key Bertman, Stockholm (SWE)
Textile designer Simon Key Berman set up his own design studio with a commercial production line, and he also makes a few personal and artistic works. During the design process he always remains faithful to one of two methods, both based on the relationship between the surface, the pattern and the use of colour. He combines this with a mathematical approach for generating the pattern, and he also places great emphasis on the tactile nature of the finished product. Simon finds it important that his designs are simple and understandable, characteristics that make most of his work accessible. And his use of pure and classic materials such as wool, cotton or linen makes his creations durable seem timeless.
3) Morten & Jonas, Bergen (NOR)
These two young designers, who share a fantastic workspace on Bergen’s harbour, are all about a simple and formal approach, with few frills. For them, design is all about people – that’s why the do work with the prison in Bergen, helping inmates make small-scale products – and usability. It’s also crucial for them that their designs and methods have a positive note, the bookends made out of laser cut steel as shown in the picture are a clear example. (They are produced by Norden og Verden/Scandinavian surface.) Many designs by Morten & Jonas are also based on curiosity about a material, about searching for its characteristics and boundaries – and then about going beyond those boundaries.
4) Kristine Five Melvær, Oslo (NOR)
Industrial design and as well as graphic arts are the source of Kristine Five Melvær's work. Both are about visual communication, and by combining them, the designer challenges herself to explore the interplay between, on the one hand, a process which is determined by fixe rules or physical limits and, on the other hand, a process that is much more about freedom. Melvær’s ideas often merge form everyday life, daily rituals and customs and she finds it crucials to come into contact with the tactile nature of design – she wants the objects she’s designing to first of all be felt and experienced by the designer. The material she most commonly uses is glass, like for the series of vases called ‘Seasons’, as shown in the picture (available here). She finds it mystical, bright and bearing a sort of classical beauty. It requires care and caution, that’s why Melvær hopes to create object that are timeless, that last and that the user cherishes.
5) Lars Rank, Copenhagen (DEN)
Ceramist Lars Rank's studio is located at the back of a shop premises; it’s a wonderful, calm space that is full of light. Lars studied ceramics but also trained as an artist; he was particularly into conceptual art and installation art. Also important in his resume is the time he spent in Japan: he describes his work as the combination of Scandinavian functionalism and minimalism with Japanese wabi sabi. Het likes to let the material speak for itself, and dares to let things happens intuitively and from his gut feeling. This freedom in his creative process often leads to new ideas and designs, for example through a chance discovery or a mistake in an earlier creation. Every piece in Lars’s collection is made with his own hands – he wants to be sure that every product that he delivers is of the same quality and value. As a result, every product is unique.
___ Photos by Piet Albert Goethals, texst by Jessy Van Durme