Katrin Greiling’s work as a designer has taken her to the deserts of the UAE and further east still to the jungles of Indonesia. The Stockholm-based Munich native’s designs often have Nordic bones, but they’re made by hand in small workshops thousands of miles away. Her work as a photographer — an intended hobby that has morphed into a career — is also in high demand. But what makes the mind of this multi-disciplinary, globetrotting creative tick?
As a child, Greiling was always artistic, but she cites Donald Judd’s functional-minded work as initially sparking her interest in design. After high school in Munich, Greiling enrolled in a carpentry course at the Carl Malmsten School, making a move to the southern Swedish island of Öland. Upon graduating from Konstfack, Greiling forewent a steady career in Stockholm, upping sticks and taking a post at a firm in Dubai. “It was weird to move from the established scene in Europe, but there were benefits,” she says.
Like: The move made her more independent as a designer, braver, and more willing to take risks. Dubai, she says, was an adventure for her. Through wayward exploring deep into the desert as well as Dubai’s dense building sites, Greiling started to build a huge library of photographs. “I was finding a new image of beauty,” she says and also realizing the virtues of a life behind the lens. Her camera began to allow her access to places otherwise out of bounds. These observations provided an entry point for her designs.
The designer moved back to Stockholm in 2009 but her work continues to propel her around the globe. What’s the most remote place design has taken her? On one trip to Indonesia, she heard about a highly skilled bamboo craftsman and decided she had to look him up. “I went on a bus for four hours through the jungle,” she says. “Then I got picked up on a motorbike and rode further into the jungle.” She arrived at a tiny village, completely on her own, met the guy, and tried to make herself understood; she thinks some of the villagers were a little shocked by her guts. But Greiling says her most exciting trip is still ahead of her. Here’s a look at 8 things that keep her moving forward.
The first time Katrin Greiling visited Indonesia, back in 2011 on a Swedish Arts Grant, she arrived, as she always does, with her camera. The Stockholm-based designer got her first camera when she was 10, flirted with the idea of photography school, and now, in addition to her design practice, shoots portraits and interiors for publications like Wallpaper, Abitare, and Form. But photography is more than just a hobby for Greiling. She was in Indodesia to produce a daybed for Kvadrat’s Hallingdal 65 project, but she soon found that she couldn’t stop herself from photographing the rattan production going on in the same furniture workshop, a sheet-metal structure wedged among Java’s dense architecture. “Photography legitimizes me to be in certain circumstances, to come closer to a subject than a normal visitor would,” she says. By photographing the workers and their process, she came to understand rattan’s properties. It suddenly came to her: “Of course I had to work with rattan."
You only need to know a few things about Belgrade to understand where Ana Kraš comes from: It's been invaded countless times throughout history, even by the Nazis, after which it was then ravaged by Tito, Milošević, the Kosovo War, and the associated NATO bombings. When it finally emerged from its troubles in 1999, its government and economy were in shambles; the average salary in Belgrade is still less than 400 euros per month. To have become a designer in this context is exceedingly difficult — Kraš's design school had no workshop, materials, or experienced professors, and almost none of her compatriots can afford to spend money on furniture — and yet you won't find a trace of that struggle in the talented 26-year-old's work. At least not by looking at it.
Fredrik Paulsen’s work, both as a designer and as a co-founder of Stockholm’s brilliant Örnsbergsauktionen is shaking the foundations of what you think Scandinavian design ought to be. “Here you are taught to produce work for the everyman,” Paulsen says. “It’s the legacy of IKEA: Good design for everyone. But if your work doesn’t really fit into mass production and it is not intended for it, then there is no platform or venue to show it.” It was this void that led Paulsen and his friends and fellow designers Simon Klenell and Kristoffer Sundin to stage their first auction during last year’s Stockholm’s Design Week. They invited contemporaries — some they knew, others they only knew of — to submit diverse, self-made works that went beyond the cookie-cutter forms they’d grown tired of, and put them up for bidding. It paid off.