Stockholm based Katrin Greiling (DE), is a multidisciplinary designer - working within a mixture of creative fields such as photography, illustration, graphic design, interior architecture and furniture design.
While having a little break back home in Stockholm after a trip to Tokyo, Katrin sat down with N|N to tell us about her unique ways of working.
(by Bjørnar Pedersen for N|N ©2012)
Working with industrial design, illustration, interior architecture, photography and more - your approach to design is quite wide. Do you consider yourself to be furniture designer more than interior architect?
When I decided what to study I considered both photography and furniture design, but I decided to keep photography only as a hobby. At Konstfack in Stockholm where I studied, the program was called furniture design and interior architecture. I was always more interested in the making, being in the workshops, learning from mistakes and discover different ways of doing. Interior architecture, at that time, felt as a must. Nowadays I see it differently. I see interior architecture as the door for what I can do as a furniture designer. I’m able to create the context, and a concept.
Forest Aesthetics (selection)
Can you pick one project that you have been involved with as an example of this that stands particularly close to you?
My master thesis at Konstfack ‘Forest Aesthetics’. I did this work 2005 and for me, it was a key project, getting to understand my way of working better. I’m describing my process as going around in a room that has different doors. Opening these doors will always open you to a new perspective on the project you are just creating.
Forest Aesthetics is an installation of 4 functional products; telling the story about the forest. I was playing with the random, this translated into computer graphics, then products, all strongly held together through its visual communication.
In most cases when I start to work with a scope I’m choosing the font first baking it all together. Agfa Rotis Sans Serif Light was the first thing I decided on for different personal reasons related to the project.
Can you elaborate?
Selecting the typeface is maybe the starting point of how you present a project to a client - already there you choose a visual direction. “Gesamtkunstwerk” is a nice German word for describing that things belong together. I think it’s important to work parallel on things to make a strong communication.
What were your recent shows Institute Suédois a Paris and The Evolution of the Object about?
I lived in Dubai for almost 3 years. As an outsider to the local culture I discovered things that were invisible for the locals. I thought this was very interesting and I digged deeper into that and found one particular object which caught my attention, the camel chair.
In the first hand the camel chair is a functional object to be used on the camel to carry things. This lifestyle f the nomads of course influenced the objects around them and their behaviour (bedouins), so the chair was also used as furniture in the tents. This created a certain way of sitting, like leaning on the floor.
I found that objects in contemporary local Emirati homes used furniture reminiscent of the camel chair. This ‘piece of furniture’ was sometimes very similar to its original, but sometimes only a square pillow upholstered in the local fabric. The seating position was still the same. From these observations my idea about the evolution of ‘things’ grew. I made my own interpretation of the camel chair for the Wallpaper Handmade exhibition in Milan 2010, Hat-Hat, and applied for funding to continue with this research. With the funding I travelled to Indonesia, where I applied the same method, seeing my surrounding with sensitive eyes as a foreigner and outsider to the local culture. I collected items, and created own items.
Institut Suédois was more driven for personal reasons, as my boyfriend lives in Paris. I wanted to test the city and come up with a proposal. For me it meant a lot to be back in Europe after my years in the Middle East. Paris was the centre of the spreading of the culture of the orient, so I had a good lead, though I did not work so much on that more than trying to find some obvious traces. I still have to learn French. I’m working close with France, not at least as photographer for the French Elle Decoration. I covered the Salone del Mobile for them, in Milan, not on the fair ground, making portraits of Tom Dixon, Li Edelkoort, Oki Sato (Nendo), Vincent Darré, Tadao Ando etc. I have these parallel careers, as designer, and as photographer. My photographic work is represented by the Dubai based gallery The Empty Quarter.
Research images of the different versions of the camel chair.
Evolution of the Object: Tata, 2012
You came back to Stockholm yesterday after spending some time in Japan-
Yes. Tokyo was just a small intermezzo. I have been travelling there since 2006 once a year, collaborating with my Japanese partners on various projects. This time we worked on an event on Sweden at the Swedish Embassy; Sweden Day in Tokyo. I was acting as art director creating the logotype, the exhibition architecture plus a small curated show in the embassy’s squash room.
But you know, actually I’m German, I grew up in Munich and moved to Sweden in 1998 to learn fine woodworking.
I’m comparing it to plants. You need the right soil to grow. Sweden at that point felt completely right and I’m so pleased I could make this decision when I was 20. I could not have worked that way in Germany. But soil needs to be changed sometimes as well.
Munich was such a great city to grow up in, it has a nice perspective on Europe.
Japan and Sweden have a deep respect for each other it seems, appreciation for what we create, how we do things, what we enjoy. It’s maybe all about poetry and the strength of nature.
In Japan I was lucky to meet some great people already in 2006. Relationships are slow in Japan, and now it just feels about that they are growing and getting deeper. So I might be back there soon…
Sweden Day in Tokyo, exhibition 2012
What can we expect to see from you in 2012?
I’m at the moment collaborating with a Dutch company on a sofa, a French company for a sketchbook, new photography scopes and a journey back to Indonesia to try to start a production line - but for the summer I only want to be in Sweden. Just yesterday I booked a flight to Kiruna. I have never been so far north in the country I’m living in (I have a Swedish passport as well). So I’m very excited about the week, somewhere around Abisko, Kungsleden, Kebnekaise, and then with the night train back to Stockholm. And all this in the nightly daylight…
Hide & Sleep, 2012
Bidoun Sofa, 2009
(by Bjørnar Pedersen for N|N ©2012)