email interview by Leena Svinhufvud 11.8.2020
Why did you want to join the project? What did you find interesting?
I joined the project, because I thought it already had an interesting mix of great designers and I was curious to see what new I could bring to the table. Also, I had never worked with museum archives before, so I wanted to challenge myself by doing something completely out of my comfort zone.
What did you think when you saw the objects in the Craft Museum archive? First reaction?
My honest first reaction was that I felt a bit overwhelmed with all the material. There was just so many swatches to go through and it was hard for me to focus on anything. But after taking everything in for a moment, I started to see the common thread with all the swatches.
Was it easy to connect what you saw – the museum material – to your previous work and your field of expertise?
In the very beginning I was struggling a bit with the archive material consisting of solely geometric motifs, whereas my work and inspirations are normally more organic and dreamy in nature. However, when I decided to focus on movement and layers in my artworks, things started to click.
Did you think it was “strange” to ask designers outside of crafts to work with the archive of the Friends of Finnish Handicraft?
Not at all! On the contrary, I think that in order to create something new and unexpected it was essential to have an interesting selection of designers from different, unrelated fields working on this project.
Have you done anything like this before? Have you used museum archives in your work and how?
No, this was the first time I worked with museum archives.
Do you use historical sources in your work? Are you interested in history?
I’m not a big history buff and in my own work I’m mostly inspired by abstract and organic things, such as moods or things in nature, and I also use a lot of new digital techniques. However, I also enjoy working by hand and I’m very interested in learning traditional art and textile techniques. In my work I also combine unexpected techniques, materials and inspirations together to create contrast, so working with the archives was something new and exciting for me.
Did this archive speak to you in a particular way?
Visually I was inspired by the yarn as a graphic line motif, the contrast between the base fabric and embroidered yarn, the use of positive and negative space and the symmetry and rhythm of the embroidered patterns.
On a conceptual level, what I found most interesting in the archive was the fact that the textile swatches were made by anonymous embroiders, in all likelihood all female. In textiles or design in general people often praise the designer or the artist for their great vision and dismiss the artisans, the craftsmen, the people who actually make the finished product. In reality, artisans often work in collaboration with the artist and their skills and signature (kädenjälki) is an integral part of the finished look and especially the feel of the product. In my artworks I wanted to focus on the movements of the yarn to bring focus on the hypnotic and cyclical hand embroidery process and the anonymous artisans doing the actual work by hand.
How do you see the value of this project? What have you gained?
This project brings the hidden archives to new light as it offers vastly different and distinctive interpretations and perspectives into traditional textiles in Finland. For me personally it was a new experience to use textile archives as a starting point for my artistic process and through this project I gained a deeper appreciation for traditional embroidery techniques and especially for the artisans who made them.
Design is for today and for the future – why should history be show? Does history matter?
It’s important to know and value traditional crafts and the history and stories behind them. In context of design it’s also paramount to interpret and combine this past knowledge with today’s techniques, aesthetics and values in order to create something new and inspiring.
How can we bring design archives to life?
I think projects like these that bring together designers from different fields and expertise to create new and open-minded interpretations of the archives are a perfect way to introduce the archives to audiences previously unfamiliar with them. Traditional handcraft techniques should definitely be celebrated and used in new, playful and exciting ways.
I think it is amazing what a material archive like that can evoke. You can look at it with different eyes. You can look at it like some dusty archive of history, like yesterdays stuff, but then when you really start looking at it, it is very different to look at it in material form than in images. If it had been a power point i think the inspiration would have been very different. When artists start to look at a material archive, that has all this textures and the feeling of wool or unfinished sketches by some historical artist and the feeling of paper and the rustling of it and all these layers of knowledge, then it surely evokes very different things than just looking at images.
And you get a multi sensory experience that goes into your body in a multi sensorial way, i think that is really exciting as well.