I was commissioned by Monitor Magazine to interview a new talent on the block – Norwegian designer Lars Beller Fjetland. When I first visit his website, I’m instantly greeted with a geeky smile of a very young person, looking at me as if he were just across the table. I learn that Lars only graduated from Bergen National Academy of the Arts last year. He must be so young – I think. He is. But not too young to know exactly where he’s going. He willingly answers questions about his work, and – as if they were never asked – overlooks the questions with a slight personal touch. His Scandinavian nature seems to be sending me a signal that I can only look into Lars as much as he allows me to. I have no choice, I have to respect his decision. Meet Lars and his philosophy of design.
Excerpts from the interview for the English readers below, Polish readers please refer to the hard copy of the Monitor Magazine no. 6 (currently on sale).
I travelled around Norway few years back and visited Bergen as well. What stroke me most was a certain serenity and simplicity about the country and the surroundings. A bit of roughness too. How much is your design inspired by the place of your birth and your country? The Drifted stool is inspired by wasted materials thrown ashore by the water. Are all your designs so strongly rooted in your surroundings? Is this your artistic path?
I am convinced that growing up in Norway has had a big impact on me as a designer. I have always lived with nature as my next-door neighbor, and I choose to believe that this is evident in most of my work. Growing up so close the to elements of nature really shapes you as a human being, and you become sort of addicted and dependent on it being a part of your daily life.
Lately I’ve been fortunate enough to get to travel to some of the most vibrant and creative cities on earth. It has left me with a lot of unforgettable moments and impressions. Even so, it is still in the least extraordinary places I make my most extraordinary discoveries.
I would say that serenity and simplicity quite perfectly describe the atmosphere in Bergen. The city is literally packed with history, tradition and lots of small-town charm. For me it’s the perfect place to get inspired and create. There are some clear advantages in living in a smaller city like Bergen. Here there is far less visual noise that tends to clutter my mind.
Isn’t it difficult to design today? We seem to have seen it all, everything seems to have been discovered, and yet, here you come – with your designs, quite fresh and no fuss. Is it a challenge or a burden to design in 2013?
Some of my work is really clean, simple and toned down. This can prove to be a challenge in a world were everyone is screaming for attention. To gain recognition from the industry and producers like Discipline and Normann Copenhagen is both encouraging and essential. It motivates me to stay true to my philosophy and to continue to follow my chosen path. The Norwegian musicians in Kings of Convenience hit the nail on the head with their album title “Quiet is the new loud”.
I like to think that I operate in the periphery of what is often referred to as Scandinavian design. I sometimes take elements like specific details or techniques from the traditional Scandinavian style and integrate them in a more contemporary design. This enables me to create something classic yet surprising and innovative. I try to incorporate an aspect of innovation into all of my designs, as I really feel the need to bring something new to the table.
I tend to initiate my design processes by studying a specific material combination. Materials can gain strengths and beauty from each other, which makes it even more exiting to look for new and unexpected combinations. Ithoroughly investigate their properties and inherent qualities, and let this set the basis for the rest of the design process. So far I’ve been focusing on exploring the world of natural materials.
I attempt to only use materials for their inherent qualities, to ensure that the object being designed has the ability to for fill its purpose without having an expiring date. I resent cheap gimmicks and aim for a pure simplistic marriage between function and beauty.
Hope you enjoyed reading it? I very much enjoyed talking to Lars!