IN THE STUDIO WITH CERAMIST, GLASS ARTIST AND DESIGNER
CARINA SETH ANDERSSON
INTERVIEW BY ANNICA KVINT, PHOTO BY EMMA SHEVTZOFF
You don’t need to flip through Swedish interior design magazines for long before finding it – a round glass vase with its characteristic dewdrops. Carina Seth Andersson’s “Dagg” or “Dew” vase has become a 2010s equivalent to Alvar Aalto’s 1930s “Savoy” vase – a modern classic with shapes from nature.
BUT THERE ARE FURTHER SIMILARITIES between the two vases. It took a long time before finding a viable way to produce Savoy. The original idea to cast the glass vase in a mould of thin steel was abandoned in favour of a wood mould that gradually burned away from each vase as the glass hardened. Producing Dagg presented similar perplexities.
“The shape of the vase required enormous precision from the glass mould maker. It had to be exactly the right amount of glass and the right temperature to be able to blow it and it took a long time to find a feasible manufacturing process, says Carina about Dagg, which is blown in a graphite mould at the Skrufs Glassworks in Småland, Sweden.”
Åke (the companion) in the studio.
Carina Seth Andersson in her studio.
WITH “DAGG”, SVENSKT TENN HAS DONE A GOOD CULTURAL DEED FOR AN ART INDUSTRY IN SHAMBLES.
“Now, in retrospect, I’m very thankful that Svenskt Tenn dared to produce Dagg, above all for what the vase’s success means in a broader context. Skruf has been able to hire more people and open a new kiln. So with Dagg, Svenskt Tenn has done a good cultural deed for an art industry in shambles.”
Carina Seth Andersson’s collection of vases for Svenskt Tenn started selling in 2009. In addition to the Dagg vase there’s “Kotte” (Cone) and “Stubbe” (Stub). The three vases are designed for three different purposes. While Dagg is suitable for branches, twigs and taller flowers, Stubbe is designed for lower bouquets and Kotte for the first wood anemones of spring.
Perhaps the collection can be seen as a modern equivalent to Estrid Ericson’s “wardrobe” of vases? Svenskt Tenn’s founder had an incredible knack for putting the right flowers in the right vase, and recommended four classic vases that should be in every home: the jam jar, the ginger jar, a pewter chalice and the mug.
Estrid Ericson’s travels and all of the exotic items that she came home with inspired Carina Seth Andersson. She says that the concept of “exotic” became her starting point:
“Many people travel today and objects from the whole world can be found in many places. So I began to think about what could be perceived as exotic today. Around the same time, the newspapers began writing about how more and more children seldom or never spend time in the woods and that’s when I knew that the collection would be about Nordic nature.”
Carina describes this as if she herself grew up in the woods. For while her family lived in the Stockholm suburb of Lidingö, they spent almost half of their time at their country home near Bålsta, Sweden.
“I didn’t have any friends there, but the forest was big and the trees were high. I don’t recall ever being bored. My father taught me so much about flowers and animals – something that I’m happy for today – and probably my interest in cultivation comes from him. Unlike Estrid Ericson however, my father never wanted to travel. There was always something that was going to bloom or that had to be done with one of the vines or crops!”
With such an upbringing, it’s perhaps not so surprising that Carina has managed to produce vases, pots, containers and more. But that is far from everything. She has managed to move unhindered between crafts and design ever since she graduated from the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design (Konstfack) in 1993. She has worked with everything from glass and clay to metal, wood and textiles. She has even done a number of public projects and also taught at Beckmans College of Design.
“What’s important for me is that there is an edge in what I do. I like the simplicity found in laboratory glass and happily reduce any excess in my objects. But then the object has to have a little something so it doesn’t feel dead or boring. Having it finish with a small bulge or making the handiwork visible. I like when chance can decide, so that something uncontrollable enters into the controlled.”