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A small compact camera and a growing fascination with crafts and tailoring - already at the age of eleven, Lars Nilsson was closing in on the world that would become his as an adult. Seven years later he went to Paris, to the fashionable "École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne", and later to his very first job in the industry, as an intern at Chanel Haute Couture. Now he has a new interior design collection made exclusively for Svenskt Tenn.
When Lars Nilsson went to elementary school he received a camera from his parents. A couple of years later, as creative subjects such as sewing and woodworking entered the school curriculum, they sparked his curiosity and interest in crafts and sewing. This was the beginning of what would be a lifelong love for details and aesthetics.
"I was captivated by different manufacturing techniques and was fascinated by sewing work."
“Photographing became my way of documenting what inspired me. Long before everyone started carrying around iPhones, I constantly had my little camera handy so I could capture what I saw. With time, my curiosity developed into a driving force. I was captivated by different manufacturing techniques and was fascinated by sewing work. I wanted to know how Chanel made a tailored jacket, how perfectly composed music came to be, or how to form well thought-out costumes for a performance,” says Lars.
After high school, it was off to Paris for continued studies. An internship at Chanel Haute Couture turned into employment and after a few weeks work he was given the opportunity to create clothing for the Haute Couture show in Paris. After that his career as a designer continued at some of the world’s biggest fashion houses, including Christian Lacroix, Dior, Nina Ricci, Bill Blass, Ralph Lauren and Balmain.
Today, it’s been more than 30 years since Lars moved from Sweden and Stockholm, but a part of his homeland is still reflected in his creations. He refers to it as “the Swedish functionality” – conveying what serves as a common thread in all of his undertakings.
“There is a lot that is extreme and crazy when it comes to Haute Couture in Paris, and that is something that I do appreciate, to a certain extent. But as a Swede in Paris there is something else that I always return to, that I want to get across, and that is the blend of aesthetic and functional. My goal is always that whatever I create must be useful, able to be worn and hold up over time,” says Lars.
Anacapri Inspiration - Lars Nilsson
The new interior design collection for Svenskt Tenn takes this a step further. The goal is that unlike many clothing collections, it should live on and work over different periods of time and seasons.
The collection took shape on Capri, at the Villa San Michele, in the spring of 2017. Among other things, it was Lars’ childhood summers in Swedish Leksand that brought him here, to the Bay of Naples in the Mediterranean Sea. “When I was little we spent the summers at Axel Munthe’s summer place in Hildasholm in Leksand. Later, when I started discovering cities like Paris and Milano as an adult, my mom insisted that I should also visit Capri and the Villa San Michele, which Munthe had created.”
View of the Bay of Naples from Villa San Michele
Since then, Lars has spent many summers in Italy. When the opportunity arose to design a collection for Svenskt Tenn, he applied for a scholarship to be able to stay, get inspired and create in the Villa San Michele. The result was a graphic and colourful reflection of the Villa’s surroundings and sea views. As with so much of Josef Frank’s work, the details in the fabrics convey a timelessness and optimism.
Lars took on the assignment, sticking close to his creation all the way, from idea to handicraft to its execution. Doing that made the step from fashion to interior design feel perfectly natural.
Capri exhibition at Strandvägen 5, Stockholm. 22.03.18 – 27.05.18
“Craftsmanship is an international language and for me it has looked the same regardless of where I’ve been or which project I’ve taken on,” says Lars. “The most important thing has always been to be involved throughout the project, to be careful with the details, be inspired by the surroundings and make use of the knowledge and experience that exists locally. Svenskt Tenn works in the same way, something that has made this cooperation so much fun.”