The designer behind memorable LINUM items
Mathias Elovsson is the Swedish designer behind a wide range of memorable LINUM products. This spring, that includes a new colourway for his bestselling leather apron, FUEGO. Before its February launch, we got the chance to talk to Mathias and ask him some questions we’ve always wanted to know about LINUM, interiors and design.
What was it like to come on board at LINUM, and what challenges have you have faced since you started?
I came in at a time when LINUM was going through some very big changes in terms of product development, assortment coordination and company structure. In a way, it was like building a company from the ground up. But there was also a substantial history to preserve, which was quite humbling. When you’re designing for a specific brand, it’s all about finding that perfect balance between your own idea and the company’s look and direction.
Where do you find inspiration? Is it tough having a creative job where you always have to deliver creatively, or the opposite?
Inspiration can come from very different places. A word, a colour, a phenomenon. But it’s also the fruit of hard work, of setting your own boundaries and frameworks. It can be tough to be expected to constantly deliver creatively, but at the same time this is a job like any other. You have a task that has to be completed in the best possible way. What can knock you is that everything you do is judged; everyone has an opinion. Plus there is very little way – if any – of knowing whether you’re on the right track, as you are often designing twelve or even eighteen months in advance.
How do you view design and time? Do you think trends are moving faster now than before, or is it just that nothing is quite catching on?
Design is everywhere and nowhere. I mean, in one respect, everything we surround ourselves with has been designed; someone had an idea of how they wanted it to look. Traditionally, interiors trends have moved slower than those in fashion, for example, but I think that’s changing. But it’s also difficult to talk about trends: there are so many styles and tastes out there that to talk about one universally prevailing trend is misleading. Nowadays, if you go to any lectures on trends, it’s really about playing it safe. So, no matter what a person’s taste, they can find something that feels spot on for them…
What do you think will be big in interiors going forward?
Trying to be as honest as possible, both to yourself and the product, but also to the customer or consumer. Transparency on quality and production, and being able to explain why a product is priced a certain way with regard to its quality, artisanship, etc. I am also convinced that today’s consumers have a greater awareness of products’ value and shop differently as a result. They value products that will last, and that goes for materials as well as design.
What advice would you give young people wanting to work in design?
Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learnt over the years is to let prestige go. You are NOT your design. At times you might not be completely happy with what you have achieved, but if the product has been made that means it works, so your job is done. But it’s also important to be able to explain your choices; just thinking something “looks good” won’t cut it.
Tell us about FUEGO. How did this product come about?
FUEGO was the result of LINUM’s desire to broaden its kitchen range, find new customers and strengthen its brand. Working closely with LINUM’s head of production Annika Ekblom, who has a lot of experience in product development, we found a supplier who could meet our quality requirements. The products in themselves had to be both functional and physically appealing. There was a lot of emphasis on little details like the little loop for the tea towels: what size the rivet would be and the width of the band.
Out of what you have designed for LINUM, do you have any personal favourites?
Ironically, as a designer for what is primarily a textile company, my favourite is the little MABLE bowl in marble. I use this little bowl for things like sea salt or spices every day myself. It’s small and dainty but has a weight to it, and it will last.
Does any pattern lie particularly close to your heart?
I’m pretty passionate about the Gamla Stan pattern, which is available in three different colourways. It’s basically a very classical pattern made up of curved shapes, but its conscious asymmetry really brings it to life. And of the most recent collection, I’m keen on the Midsummer pattern, with flowers found on the Swedish archipelago.
Is there anything you haven’t done yet but would like to do?
It would be cool to develop an entire product line with a clear theme that would cover all the home essentials.
Last but not least, given that FUEGO is a kitchen product, what are your skills in that department?
Food is a truly creative thing. I love cooking, and if I had to choose a favourite recipe it would be a really spicy chili originally developed by the Texan journalist Francis X Tolbert in the early sixties.
Mathias Elovsson has worked for LINUM since September 2014. Before that, he was designer at Sweden’s biggest department store chain, Åhléns.
Mathias studied textile design at the Danish Design School in Copenhagen.