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Meet the Maker

Ida Vikfors

Tension in Texture

For years, we have curiously admired the work of Ida Vikfors – at first, as a pattern designer and artisan in textiles, and more recently, as an artist – from afar. When we felt that the one vertical wall in TypeO Loft had been gaping empty long enough, we got in touch to ask her whether she would consider making a piece for our guests to enjoy. We were thrilled when she obliged.

‘Oivi’ is, in its neutral colours and minimalist expression, a lovely addition to the loft and perfectly mirrors our idea of slowing down and taking the day as it comes. The sculptural lines and ribbed texture captures the light and comes alive, and is therefore in transition throughout the day. We spoke with Finnish-born Vikfors about her work and inspiration.

Photography: Ida Vikfors and Micha van Dinther

The visual appearance of your works is minimalist and tranquil. What is the philosophy behind your signature style?

My works are a reminder to the viewer to be present. The pieces are modest and need a bit of attention to reveal their personality. Depending on the reflections of light, different shades and shadows create sculptural lines that form a surface that is restful to behold. The works appear tactile and almost a bit fragile. In juxtaposition to the tough surface, that creates tension between the true properties of the material, and how it is being perceived. That is the thing that I love and that I want the viewer to experience.

With a background as a pattern and textile designer, working with supple and soft materials, how did you end up using such hard and stark materials in your artworks?

I do not like to define a material in a certain way, but instead, take advantage of how to transform and use its qualities. I think that it is up to each and everyone to label the experience that comes out of looking at or touching a material. Textile has always been an important part of my creativity, and something that I will continue to work with, but maybe in other ways than before.

“To me, the minimalist expression of Nordic design is not just the way it looks, but rather about how you involve it in your lifestyle. With that, I hope that my works can be a part of the stillness that so many of us need today.”

exempeltext

As a Finnish artist living in Sweden, do you see a difference in artistic expression and appreciation between the two countries, despite being geographically close? 

The artworld is a new place for me, and have yet to acquire enough experience to see an obvious difference in how we look at art between the two countries. Historically there are of course many aspects that have impacted how art is perceived, and I would prudently like to say that the Finns tend to be a bit more modest in their preferences, while in Sweden there is a much more open mind for different styles and variations. Growing up in a small village, surrounded by open fields and dense forests, I have always felt grounded and safe in such environments. Seeing people making use of what nature offers, living a sustainable life and creating much on their own, opened me up to explore my own capabilities. I believe that it has shaped me, and something I want to give to others through my work. To me, the minimalist expression of Nordic design is not just the way it looks, but rather about how you involve it in your lifestyle. With that, I hope that my works can be a part of the stillness that so many of us need today.

What is your main source of inspiration?

Ever since I was little, I’ve been fascinated by textures, surfaces and materials. To this day I still consider employing my hands, rather than my eyes when exploring materials, very important to me. I would not say that there is any specific thing that I look for in search of inspiration, but I find elements in architecture and everyday surroundings inspiring.

TypeO Journal

Slow Living in the Swedish countryside. Updated every Saturday.

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Barnaby Ash & Dru Plumb of Ash & Plumb

Working With and Againt the Grain

With a past in careers involving creative elements, both Dru Plumb and Barnaby Ash took a leap of faith in the midst of an unforeseen global pandemic to start their own business as makers of something out of nothing. Ash & Plumb is the creative studio where they employ their creative minds – and hands – to shape unique and sculptural pieces out of wood.

With wood sourced locally, the duo enjoys working with natural materials and its inherent challenges. While not fully knowing beforehand what lurks behind the surface of a piece of wood, they both consider that a part of the drive behind total creative freedom and autonomy. We spoke with Barnaby about what drives them and how their stunning wood sculptures are created.

You both have careers in disciplines and functions in the creative industry. What triggered you to leave your careers to become independent craftsmen full time?

Whilst there were many creative elements to both of our previous careers, particularly in fashion, we have always had a desire to create something from nothing. There’s something so exciting about building from a raw concept and bringing an idea to life. It requires you to consider and intimately understand every part of the process, constantly challenging yourself along the way. Ultimately we were looking for something more personally fulfilling and desired the autonomy and creative freedom that Ash & Plumb allows us.

Your professional backgrounds both span over a vast area of different fields, what inspired you to choose wood in particular as the material of choice for your craft?

We have always been drawn to wood as a medium, having both grown up around woodlands we have a strong emotional connection to the material, it has such a wonderfully tactile nature and can add magnificent character to the spaces in which we live and work. When we renovated our home we designed and built some custom pieces for the house and completely fell in love with the making process along the way. We are passionate about using local materials, sourcing a mixture of fresh logs from local arborists taken from at-risk trees that are felled due to disease or other causes and kiln-dried boards sourced from responsibly managed British woodlands.

“It is this part of the process that is definitely my favourite, exploring the limitations of what is possible with the material is a wonderful challenge!”

Could you take us through the whole creative process from start to finish in making your turned wood objects?

Whilst we aim for a certain fluidity within the process it generally starts with a discussion around a specific concept. For example for our Halo tray; Dru and I sketched out some potential forms before deciding on a more tangible direction. At this point I prepared some blanks, opting for clean grained sections of a board allowing me to focus on refining the form itself without any distractions before taking the tray back to Dru to discuss and potentially further refine from there. Once we were happy with the final form we then explored our stock to see how we could take advantage of the natural features such as bark inclusions and natural voids and create a series of individual trays that while similar in form were completely unique in character. It is this part of the process that is definitely my favourite, exploring the limitations of what is possible with the material is a wonderful challenge! Once I had turned a series of these, Dru then took charge of the oiling and finishing before curating a selection for him to style and photograph, requesting a couple of additional pieces to make the series more cohesive. Aiming to carefully curate our work through this process ensures a clear aesthetic relationship that ties everything together. It’s important to us that each stage of the creative process maintains a relative fluidity allowing us to be open to new concepts along the way. It is through this way of working that we believe our best work is produced.

All your pieces are unique and original as the raw material always displays individual patterns, grains and blemishes. Is the nature of natural materials a blessing or a challenge?

The nature of natural materials is definitely both a blessing and a challenge! Working with wood is an inherently collaborative process, as you never know exactly what to expect when you cut into a log. That is of course part of the excitement, we enjoy the challenges presented by what most would consider an imperfection, seeing it as an opportunity to highlight the individual and characterful nature of the medium. This way of working means we can utilise our materials in a way that is simply not possible in a mass-produced context.

TypeO Journal

Slow Living in the Swedish countryside. Updated every Saturday.

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Jenny & Jacob Huurinainen of OM-SE

Clean Beauty, Plain and Simple

While dealing with her own unbalanced skin after pregnancy, Jenny Huurinainen set out in search of a skincare routine to solve the issues she felt no other products on the market could. Hundreds of formula versions later, the result is OM-SE, a Swedish unisex skincare brand that she launched in 2020 together with her husband Jacob.

OM-SE, which is Swedish for ‘to care for’, consists of only four unique, 100 % natural and plant-based products. We spoke with Jenny about the brand’s simple yet revolutionary take on how to achieve beautiful skin, why the market is flooded with products that don’t measure up, and why there is so little transparency in the beauty industry.

Photography: Alexander Gårdenberg

Skincare is usually shrouded in mystery, fancy wording, and complicated routines. OM-SE’s message is the opposite. How can a total of four products cover the skincare needs of every gender, ethnicity, age, and skin type?

We aim to simplify and be fully transparent, as opposed to many other skincare brands out there. At the end of the day, we want our customers to understand and feel at ease with what they put on their skin. Our extremely user-centric approach hails from our wish to create something that is beneficial for the skin. It isn’t a product line created out of a marketing perspective with a mission to maximize profit. The reason that our products really work for everyone and in every situation is that they are jam-packed with all the essential ingredients that the skin needs on a daily basis. The idea is to offer a fully adaptable, multi-purpose tool that users can personalise according to their own skin’s needs. An example of this is that we decided to create an oil instead of a face cream. In a cream, there’s a fixed amount of moisture and nourishment alongside additives and emulsifiers, while an oil lets you decide if one or several drops are needed.

Why hasn’t this been done before?

Looking at beauty in the traditional retail landscape, brands need shelf space to be noticed. A large portfolio means more space is provided to showcase the brand and its products. That is the harsh reality behind the beauty industry and why there are so many products out there. Fast beauty – to be able to offer novelties to constantly stay on top of buzzy trends and formulations – is today’s norm. We believe in slow beauty and have created a line of products that we use ourselves. From a strategic point of view, our line consisting of only four products might not make much sense, but in our simplified and transparent approach, we aim to revolutionalize skincare. Selling directly to consumers online and through a number of selected retailers allows us to do things differently.

What is your inspiration behind the products, and how were they initially developed?

Inspired by the FODMAP methodology of eliminating one ingredient at a time, I started experimenting with ingredients on my own skin. I also started documenting it, narrowing in on a blend that suited my skin needs. After having enlisted friends to try it out, we initiated a large-scale trial of the products before setting out to find a manufacturer. We now produce our products according to our own formulations right here in Sweden, in small batches to ensure freshness and potency. Naturally, OM-SE’s products meet all the regulations set by the European Commission.

What makes OM-SE’s products so potent and how are they different from other products that claim to do the same thing?

We have completely left out all unnecessary oils and ingredients that are usually added to increase volume and dilute a product. If you were to compare our products with others in the same price range by carefully examining the list of ingredients, you would find that we’ve chosen to include only the very best, most potent ingredients that actually deliver results.

TypeO Journal

Slow Living in the Swedish countryside. Updated every Saturday.

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Ulrika Dehlryd of Wesomnia

Deep Comfort

In her work as a psychologist, Ulrika Dehlryd regularly encounters the challenging topics of stress, anxiety and insomnia. In a time in which we spend an increasing amount of time at home, and some of us have to endure increased solitude, Dehlryd believes in the importance of taking extra good care of ourselves.

To offer a tool to combat some of these issues, Dehlryd set out to create Wesomnia, a brand that specialises in weighted blankets made of sustainable natural materials. Although it doesn’t offer a universal remedy, she is convinced that a weighted blanket can have a major positive effect on its users. Here she explains how.

Photography: Alicia Sjöström
Styling: Pella Hedeby

The decision to bring your own weighted blanket to market, was it based on personal needs or something that you saw as a professional psychiatrist?

I would say that it is a combination of both, as well as dreaming of starting and building my own business. With my personal experience in sleep difficulties in mind and having had positive testaments from patients having used weighted blankets successfully, I decided to have a go at constructing my own version. The weighted blankets currently used in the medical sector are both unappealing and prohibitively expensive. 

You have worked exclusively using sustainable, natural and soft materials. Why, and how did you go about finding them?

I found a lot of inspiration from friends who cheered me on and who I could bounce ideas off of. Selecting the materials were to a great extent based on advice from my close friend Catherine Richter, who is co-founder of Norrgavel, a furniture company with sustainability in mind long before it was fashionable. The enthusiastic and knowledgeable people of local wool factory Klippan Yllefabrik immediately saw the potential in a weighted wool blanket, that would also be filled with locally grown wheat, to create the right weight. With that, I had a product that was sustainably made from sustainable raw materials and that fulfilled my demands of both aesthetics and comfort.

How does a weighted blanket work in practice, and how is it best used to harness its full potential?

Quite a bit of research has been done on the subject. Two theories support the use of a weighted blanket. Number one, the gentle pressure on the body sends a soothing signal to the brain that makes us feel safe. The other suggests that the weight triggers a natural release of oxytocin, which is the body’s own ”cuddle chemical”. Users of weighted blankets report deeper sleep with fewer interruptions, which speaks volumes to its benefits. I would personally consider the Wesomnia weighted blanket as a natural part of the home, as a functional and aesthetic device for self-preservation, resilience and recovery. Neuro design, if you will.

With sleep disorder being a public disease, the use of a weighted blanket may be part of the solution against insomnia. What are your (professional) thoughts on the matter?

Sleep disorder and insomnia is, unfortunately, a widespread problem. The root cause may be both psychological and physiological, which in many cases can be addressed through cognitive behavioural therapy and medical treatment. It is important to emphasise that a weighted blanket can act as a complement to therapy, but not always the cure-all solution. I look at a weighted blanket as something to be used daily to wrap ourselves in when feeling stressed or anxious, at any time during the day or night.

TypeO Journal

Slow Living in the Swedish countryside. Updated every Saturday.

READ OUR JOURNAL

Seoyoung Shin of Boiida

Gathering the Threads

Malmö-based designer Seoyoung Shin trained as an interior design architect in her native Korea before pursuing a master’s degree in design management in Milan.
Following several high-pressure years in strategy and marketing in the luxury industry, a three-year sabbatical study leave at Swedish crafts and design school Capellagården (where her husband Kunsik Choi was also studying at the time) led the couple to make some life-altering changes. Relocating to Sweden was one of them, starting her own brand another.
We spoke to Shin about her newfound love for weaving and why she decided to found the textile brand Boiida.

What is your vision for the Boiida brand?

As textile has become such a large part of my life, the idea of creating a textile brand came very naturally. I wanted to create a line of everyday linen textile items, something we live with and use daily. Boiida is my idea of the ideal everyday textile brand, with products of high quality, made in a good way and at an affordable price. Achieving this combination turned out to be a challenge, but I feel Boiida has succeeded. The line isn’t life-changing, but it adds small moments of joy to everyday life.

Boiida’s products are manufactured by Klässbols Linneväveri, purveyor to the Swedish royal household. How did you start working together?

I visited factories around Sweden and had a hard time finding someone who could meet my standards and needs. Our dear friend Carina Seth Andersson suggested that I reach out to Klässbols. She introduced us to each other, and I was very impressed by their warm welcome, even though I wasn’t a well-established name on the Swedish design scene.

Can you tell us about the creative process behind your linen goods?

I’m not very brave when it comes to drawing, so I usually start off with a mini sketch of whatever I am creating, trying out colours and patterns. They are the size of a stamp. Once I decide on something I like, I sketch out a bigger version. I then make a technical drawing and start weaving. During this phase, I also like to improvise a bit. My process is really very simple. Those prototypes are then sent to Klässbol, who return samples to me before I finalise the design.

I feel that your colour combinations and fabric textures are what make Boiida so unique. How do you think about colour and texture?

Before relocating to Sweden, I would always wear black, grey or navy clothes, but weaving introduced me to colour. I enjoy playing with different colour combinations and I realised that I had all this colour deep within me. I wouldn’t say my style is colourful, but the colour is certainly the first thing I think about when I start on something new. As for waffle weaving, the traditional technique I opted for in the entire line, I really like the three-dimensional and tactile properties it has. 

TypeO Journal

Slow Living in the Swedish countryside. Updated every Saturday.

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Alexandra Nilasdotter of Studio Nilasdotter

Tamer of Clay

At 26, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts graduate Alexandra Nilasdotter’s hand-thrown ceramics display a sophistication, maturity and integrity far beyond her age. Like a young Ingegerd Råman, Sweden’s grand dame of ceramic design, Nilasdotter sculpts clay into pieces where function and aesthetics reach an indissoluble state.

In the very first of our ‘Meet the Maker’ interviews, we spoke to Nilasdotter about her obsession with industrialism and why she doesn’t like to follow the rules.

Work is often a reflection of whom one is, and perhaps this is especially true among creatives. What moments in your upbringing and background manifest themselves in your works?

At the age of 10, when my parents decided to extend our house, I found myself surrounded by architectural drawings, materials and samples, which acted as inspiration for the structures of Legos that I erected with a strong conviction to become an architect. Now, sixteen years later, I am not an architect. In high school, I came across a potter’s wheel and was intrigued by the sheer difficulty in mastering the wheel and the clay. I felt compelled to become good at it, which has held me in a firm grip since. My initial dream to make architecture my profession still manifests itself through the shapes I make as a ceramicist. Most of my work is heavily inspired by technical drawings and architecture.

You also mention Scandinavian culture and industrialism are other sources of inspiration. Why is industrialism, with the mass production it implies and the juxtaposition to hand made ceramics, of interest to you?

I consider myself the tool, and my studio the factory. The factory workers, that used to produce everything by hand before machines took over production, are the real craftsmen. I am fascinated by the mechanics that go into hand-producing 200 identical cylinders in a short time. I find beauty in the bleak, quiet melancholy ingrained in the Scandinavian culture – it is something I want to be sensed in my works.

One of the challenges that you mention is stretching the physical limits of the clay itself. How do you do that?

My objects, which are quite streamlined and minimalistic, could easily have been cast instead of thrown. But that removes me from the material and the creation and prohibits me from pushing the boundaries of the clay and the fact that I, in the process, force the organic properties of clay to become geometrical. Different clays have different inherent properties. It takes time to learn how to execute specific components of the process using different clays. Since I employ the least possible amount of tools in my manufacturing, I keep a close bond between my hands and the clay.

The low ‘Cylinder’ mug [pictured above] is your signature piece. In what way does it signify you and your work?

Since I tend to want to do things the other way round, the ‘Cylinder’ mug is a perfect representation of that. The perfect cup is considered to be tall and narrow in order to retain heat. I wanted to try and make the opposite and take its proportions as far as possible without sacrificing functionality. From an aesthetic standpoint, I could have taken it further, but then it might have lost its purpose as a cup.

TypeO Journal

Slow Living in the Swedish countryside. Updated every Saturday.

READ OUR JOURNAL

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