INTERVIEW WITH MATTI KLENELL – CASA VIVA

DESIGN THAT LASTS

The Scandinavian creative superstar Matti Klenell, one of the guest speakers at the Belgrade Design Week, established his studio in 2000. He is equally successful in industrial production as in designing exclusive, limited edition collections. The products he designed are already displayed in museum collections throughout Northern Europe.

Although he wanted to become a writer or a journalist, he discovered architecture by chance, and since both of his parents are artists working with glass, he soon decided to pursue a career in furniture, lighting and product design. In an interview for our magazine the Swede Matti Klenell (40) said that for him, design is artistic modeling related to purpose and materialization.

He graduated from the prestigious Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm in 1999, and in 2003 he already won the extraordinary “Ljunggren” design award. Today, his clients include: Agata, Muuto, Brio, Moooi, Offecct, Bals Tokyo, Iittala… He loves to experiment with new and vintage materials, and is particularly fond of glass.

He confirms that Scandinavian design is distinctive, because of the specific and very simple materials that are used. It helps create a unique kind of expression. Social values and the way the society is organized play an important role in the aesthetics of this design, which is why it has become so successful. “When I began to combine design work for the industry with unique or limited edition projects in glass, I think that at that moment my approach became very traditional, a little bit artistic, like how things worked in the early days of industrialization, when artists were brought in by the industry to create new everyday items. Today the design profession is very specialized and I have a problem with that”, he said with a smile, and added that he often finds inspiration in his own life.

Different endeavors were important to him in different ways. A big glass exhibition at the Stockholm IngerMolin gallery in 2008 opened a lot of doors for him! “A chair I have made for a small Swedish manufacturer has given me a steady income for 10 years and a vase I did for Muuto has sold extremely well over the years. But in number of sold copies the Lempi glasses (for Iittala) are my greatest success.

Another important project to me was actually when I served as head of department at Beckmans College of Design here in Stockholm, which gave me great self- confidence and that is what 90 % of this profession is about”, says the designer whose friends are also from the world of creativity and therefore it is natural for him to be surrounded with their designs, because he buys and exchanges products with them. Still, he doesn’t think of himself as a design addict, because he chooses items that will last long, and doesn’t perceive furniture or design as fashion.

Some of his designs are already on the path to eternity! When he started, he couldn’t have imagined that one day his work would be displayed in museum collections. “The objects stay public and take part of a greater whole and that makes me feel very flattered”, says the author who is currently in the midst of many exciting projects. He performs better when he has multiple tasks, because to him, an empty agenda is the most frustrating thing imaginable!

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Running in the morning through the city (down what the germans call a fussgangerzone) and being amazed by all the grand empty old buildings that reminded me of my Berlin beginnings. Grafitti on buildings. Lovely broken walls with acne'd facades from decades of reverse engineering. Discovering that all the ships on the river were party boats and open till the morning. Sweating so much in one of the clubs, my phone got messed up. Losing phone in said club. Visiting belgrade police station to report a then stolen phone to a twenty-something cop with a doctor's lab coat, listening to Rammstein (loudly) while hacking out my report on a pre-electric typewriter that looked (and sounded) as if it was from some era before typewriters were invented.   Thinking of Naked Lunch. Thinking of Die-Hard. Listening to architects talk about porous facades. Thinking of old smart bombs. Imagining the flash and crunch of several floors of reinforced concrete collapsing in on themselves. Wondering why I'm the only interactive guy here. Why are there so many beautiful women in Belgrade? Why are there so many beautiful women in Belgrade?!

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