Born to a Swedish mother and a Danish father, Christina Liljenberg Halstrøm‘s designs are a splendid representation of Scandinavian aesthetics. With an organic and clean minimalistic approach to creating functional objects with timeless appeal. Graduating from the Royal Danish Academy of Art, School of Design in 2007, Christina has won many grants and awards for her designs, the latest being the Red Dot Award for the Georg stool for Skagerak Denmark. She has also been actively working on many projects for both Danish and International Exhibitions. Christina has formed a company with Margrethe Odgaard called Halstrøm-Odgaard collaborating on projects together.
You spent two years studying at Swedish design schools, why did you then choose to further your education at The Royal Danish Academy of Art, School of Design, and not in Stockholm?
I am born and raised in Denmark and after almost five years in Sweden I felt like moving back to Copenhagen.
How and when did your interest in design begin?
I have always had people around me who were good with their hands in different ways. My grandfather started making furniture when he retired, my grandmother taught me how to crochet and embroider, my dad showed me the basics in perspective drawing and my mother’s sewing machine was used like a toy. For a long time I thought I was going to be a painter, but I always enjoyed building things and at some point I figured out that solving different problems in an artistic way was my main interest.
Sharing a Swedish and Danish heritage, do you see differences in the approach to design in both countries?
There are definitely differences, although it might not be obvious to the rest of the world, but I feel that Swedes are more bold in their use of colour and decorations. In Denmark we are more minimalistic.
You spent a year in Berlin studying textiles during your years at the Academy, is there a particular interest in textiles?
I think textiles are a great way to get people’s tactile attention towards a piece of design. The haptic attraction is important in design objects.
What in your opinion constitutes good, timeless design?
I often find that it is the understated but functional objects that survive over time.
You won the Red Dot Award for the Georg Stool, what was your inspiration for this design?
The inspiration for the Georg stool, was to work with the notion that a stool is often looked upon as an extra piece of furniture. So I made it a bit more exclusive with the woollen pillow and it cannot be stacked and packed away in a corner. I also wanted the materials to stand out, that is why the pillow is longer on one side than on the other. Finally using the leather strap to tie it all together also accentuates that the stool consists of three different and equally important materials.
How important is it for designers to win awards for their designs, what does this do for your career?
It creates a lot of attention, and I cannot deny that attention helps a career in design. So many talented people are out there, so when you get an award it is a pat on the shoulder. And it is a great boost for the companies and the sales departments.
You work on a lot of projects for special exhibitions both local and abroad, what do you enjoy the most when working on these?
Working on objects for exhibitions means that I have the freedom to figure out the best solution to a certain problem without thinking about prices and how it should be produced as when I work for companies. It gives me the time and freedom to think through my concepts and if and when a company wants to produce one of my designs it is easier for me to make the compromises it takes in order to make it ready for commercial production.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
I work a lot with wood and steel, but I love learning new crafts, so any material really, as long as it fits with the project I am working on.
Who are your favourite designers?
Jasper Morrison, mainly because of his writings on design. His thoughts on Supernormal Design describes well how I strive to work.
And I also find Nendo extremely interesting. Oki Sato is very aware of why he is designing the way he does and I find that very important in order to create relevant design.
What is the process like to come to be able to work for a big Design Company in Denmark, in this highly competitive arena?
Denmark is such a small country with fairly many designers. But we do have a long history of furniture design companies and quite a few newer companies as well. The process is to work really hard and stick to it and live on nothing for the first couple of years.
What are the challenges young designers face today in Scandinavia?
No one can say that they are not influenced by trends, but I think that some designers might think that they need to address these trends in order to get work. So many magazines and blogs are showing the new colours of this and that and even though I think that stylists do a great job promoting design, designers should not think too much of what would look good in a magazine. Dig into some more interesting design problems instead..
You have just formed a company with textile designer Margrethe Odgaard, could you tell me what this collaboration will bring?
Margrethe Odgaard and I mainly work on exhibitions together. Some of the things we have done have gone into production. Our main goal is to work on projects that we would not have done by ourselves. Our collaboration is a sort of playground for us, where we try to work with how patterns and colours influence function and three dimensional shapes and the other way around. Very soon we are going to Iceland to visit factories and people who work with crafts to gather inspiration for new projects.
Could you tell us what you are working on at the moment?
I am working on a shoe horn right now.
Here is a video where Christina talks about the Gym-de-Lux which was exhibited at the Bienalen for Kunsthåndværk og Design in 2011. Her entry was awarded a prize by the Danish Arts Foundation.
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