Anna Kraitz‘s designs have a Swedish minimalist and functionalist stamp but with a touch of whimsy. Having first studied Fine Art, she made a gradual shift to design, the studies in Art being an advantage in her profession as a designer. Anna has won several prestigious awards, among them the Bruno Mathsson Prize in 2008 and Designer of the Year by both Residence and Plaza Interior magazines in 2010 and 2012 respectively. Her designs are also part of the National Museum’s collection.
The first College you chose to study Art was the Academy of Fine Arts Budapest, why did you choose Hungary?
My father emigrated from Hungary to Sweden in 1956. I did not grow up bilingual, so studying in Budapest afforded me the opportunity to study Art and, at the same time, study the language and delve a little more into my Central European roots.
You then continued to study painting for two years at a school in Sweden, did you first want to be an artist?
I grew up in a family of artists and that influence was very strong on me. To paint, draw and sculpt was such a natural part of my life that the thought of any other occupation had never entered my mind. I also found out quite early on what form of expression suited me best – the visual, it is vital for me. How and in which form I would use my creativity was not so clear yet. I chose what I knew best, painting and sculpture.
How did you make that shift from Art to Design when you attended Beckman’s School of Design?
It was by somewhat by chance. I applied to the school after being recommended by one of my teachers in Art School. I sent off the application and thought that should I be accepted, I would turn it down. I rather foolishly thought that Design was too commercial and not a field that I would be interested in! I was granted admission, and happily accepted! A decision I do not regret for one second.
Your designs have a feminine touch at times, a playful quality to some, where do you get your inspiration from?
I am inspired by my everyday life. As a person. As a woman. As a mother.
Each individual object in total forms the story of my life. The challenge for me is also the fusion of bringing the artistic side of me, the creativity and reflection and making it functional, this is very important for me as I design objects to be used, otherwise I would only be an artist and not a designer.
What inspired you to add a belt to some of your designs?
The idea is conceived from my own belt that I have worn very often with my jeans. It gives shape and form to the object in a space. For me it holds a deeper more existential meaning, representing my own way of having some control of the world as an artist, a symbol that represents power against this constantly flowing, fragmented, fast moving and chaotic world.
What are the challenges that you face as a designer in a market that is constantly flooded with new designs?
I could write a whole essay on this question.
If all designers worked with world improving things like healthcare materials or aid for the poor in developing countries , it would be easy to justify our career choice. But how do you justify creating things in a world full of things?
I believe the most important thing is to work with local producers – with local materials (like I have done with Källemo). It is also important for me to work with companies that do not support the culture of throwawayism, working instead with objects that can be saved and passed on to future generations. Objects with a long life. As a designer, one needs to also be responsible when it comes to the choice of materials and treatments and finishes of the products.
I believe that without Art, Design and Culture the world would be a dark and tragic place to live in.
With the proliferation of Interior magazines in Sweden in the last years, there is so much emphasis placed on trends. How does that affect designers and creativity in general?
Trends, where colours are dictated such as blue and green being Autumn’s colours, does not interest me. I don’t read about such things and hopefully, do not let it affect my work. But as a creative and curious person I am interested in what is relevant in our time. Movements in time are interesting to follow, understand and to participate in. A stream of politics, art, literature, world events all leads to something in the mind of a creative person. Trends are, after all, created out of all that.
You have designed a very wide range of products, from furniture to sunglasses, what is your favourite area of design?
I don’t think I have a favourite area….but, I do like volume. It is wonderful to make big things. At the same time small things can create a closeness…a cup is so intimate. There is a feeling of sitting at someone’s breakfast table, it is a wonderful thought. So the answer is no, every product is a challenge, fun, wonderful, difficult and exciting.
You have participated in many exhibitions, how important are these to you as a designer?
Design is communication. I would like my objects to meet many people. In boutiques, in homes, in public spaces and at exhibitions.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Yes, I am working on a few different things, but only on paper. I have many sketches that are waiting to take its form as finished products. At the moment my son is only a few months old so I am making full use of my maternity leave to enjoy him!