Eero Koivisto in Prague
Charismatic Eero Koivisto, designer and co-founder of the company Claesson Koivisto Rune comes from the most dedicated design country, Sweden. As the Swedish Wikipedia eloquently points out, Claesson Koivisto Rune design expands from jewelry to toothbrushes and buildings. The portfolio of the company can barely be summarized in a nutshell. Claesson Koivisto Rune is one the leading design and architecture studios in Sweden. Eero visited Prague as a guest speaker and jurist for the students from the Product Design Studio class at UMPRUM University defending their diploma projects. His friend Michal Fronek who is a professor at the University invited him to provide his insight to young upcoming artists. Soffa met with Eero at the Bokovka wine bar in Prague. Nestled in one corner, the conversation flowed pleasantly well through the courtyards of the bar. It was a great privilige to speak with Eero and here are some of the thoughts he kindly shared with us.
Eero about design
Design is a distinctive language, almost similar to modern dance. It can be difficult to replicate theatre at different places but the concept of design and form is universal. And just like dance, there are different expressions that specifically relate to the personality of designers.
In our studio, we like design that is usable, unobtrusive and lightweight, similar to a Rick Owens leather jacket. I like friendly design, avoiding aggression. The peculiar part of design should be subtle. Good design should appeal to anyone irrespective of age of gender. It is nonsense to make design specifically targeted to appeal the youth or just women. A product should be designed in a way that you like it even if you don't know anything about it. Design should appeal to its user in a way that you want to make it a permanent part of your life, similar to Cappellini in the 1990s.
It is not always easy to come up with something good, very similar to writing a good pop song. But that is exactly what I like - the difficulty. It is important to enjoy and get motivated by the fact that work is never easy.
Eero about teaching
I have worked a lot with students and design lessons, and now I do not have much time to do so. When you teach young people to build their own identity as designers, it is important to avoid what is trendy and rather focus on searching for one's own language. Somebody uses extrovert means of expression, another is subdued, and that is perfectly fine. It is important to find and listen to your voice in order to make the creator feel good.
Eero about critique
Critiquing a student is not difficult but you need to get into the situation of the student. You are talking to students about a project that they have put in a lot of time and energy, criticism should be formulated gently. It is a Swedish way, not to hurt anyone by your opinion.
Eero about inspiration
In Sweden, people tend to get nervous when they don't follow the trends, it is a small society. But in our studio, we try to not use pink colour simply because it is a trend. We try to preserve our own style and not repeat our work. David Bowie changed his style several times but it was still him. It is important to believe in yourself and try to keep the ideas fresh. I don't just do chairs or product design, I also work as a consultant for different companies all over the world while looking at inspiration in different areas. Fashion and art keeps me thoroughly inspired.
Eero about sustainability
The most sustainable product are those you never throw away simply because it is so good. Who would get rid of an old Ferrari? We should strive for the creation of products that have excellent use and extreme artistic value. In this way, even a plastic chair can be considered ecological. Disposable things are a big mistake in today's world. Good design is meant to last for generations. We all have pieces at our homes that we inherited from our grandmothers or grandfathers which also carry a significant amount of sentimental value. They communicate and interact with the owner even if we usually don't focus on listening.
Eero about music
Music is therapeutic to me. My love for playing drums and bass goes back to the days when I wanted to set up a band with my friends. I started with guitar but it didn't feel right so I took up playing the bass which turned out to be even harder. Usually our rehearsal is more of a coffee break, always a great way to relax. I also listen to music while doing other things, that is just one it's congenial qualities. I believe music penetrates the consciousness beyond an intellectual level, it permeates through our body which often responds to the tunes before our mind does. Even time flows differently while listening to music.
Eero about unconventional projects
In a project that we presented at Designart in Tokyo last year we touched upon art. We made a series of printsinspired by the facades of the early skyscrapers. Their designs were formed by the classical architects such as Mies van der Rohe and they are beautiful, especially compared to the more recent ones. The exhibition was a great success and further encouraged us to work on similar projects. This autumn we will present our first fashion collection that we develop together with a Japanese company. It is top secret at the moment but I can reveal that there will be some fantastic high-tech fabrics.
text: Helena Stiessová | photo & language proofreading: Amrita Datta