Jonatan Nilsson, Object and Furniture Design

say hi to_ Jonatan Nilsson

When you look into the scope of Swedish object and furniture designer Jonatan Nilsson’s work you immediately pick up on the graphic and imaginative forms, experimental use of materials and his beautifully pairing of colours. Looking back at his earlier works his style reminds us of a new version of Swedish design with a hint of pop art, which excites us not only about his current collections but also what he will contribute to the design world in the near future.

His latest collection called Shifting Shape, which we fell in love with, exists out of ombre coloured blown glass vases. They are uniquely textured by the wooden molds he uses to shape them in, which echoes an Image of ripples in water. The different forms of the vases come from the rearrangement of the molds; they take on many different shapes and forms and are truly beautifully expressive.

Having worked with different materials and techniques, while still being able to translate his style and vision in all of the media used, we applaud his organic and playful approach to design which, in our opinion, truly sets him apart from classic Swedish design.


July 26, 2018



Photo Credit_ Tor Westerlund


Q + A

| Nader | Can you please explain the concept behind the ceramics collection inspired by the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2015?

This project was a collaboration with a fellow student of mine named Matilda Beckman. The task we were given was to make an interpretation of the discovery made by the winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, Tu Youyou, who was awarded for her discovery of a new treatment for Malaria. She had studied traditional Chinese medicine, and the active substance in her medicine for Malaria is derived from an herb mentioned in old Chinese medicine recipes.

When designing the ceramics we took inspiration from the shape and colour of this herb called Artemisia Annua. We decided to make cups and a kettle as a reference to Chinese tea ceremonies. A tea ceremony is a ritualised form of making and drinking tea in which you are really devoted and focused on the process of drinking your tea. To honour this we designed the cups so they would tilt and gave them a handle, which is a bit difficult to grip, resulting in a cup that demands a bit more focus from the user. By deconstructing the kettle and separating the heating element the process of boiling water also becomes something that you have to take a more active part in.


| Nader | What are the shapes in your 'Mirror Lamps' collection inspired by? Are they one of a kind, limited edition series?

The shapes are not inspired by anything in particular. My ambition was to come up with interesting shapes that didn’t look like anything you would usually associate with a lamp. The process was very intuitive and I basically sat down for an hour or two drawing a lot of different shapes in a way that is free and quick. Then I chose the ones I liked the most that also looked good together. Since they were quite expensive to manufacture I’ve only made three unique examples. If I would make more lamps of this sort in the future I would probably choose to make new shapes so that no two lamps would be identical.


Photo Credit_ Tor Westerlund


| Nader | Face shapes seem to be a recurring theme, is that on purpose or is it a coincidence?

At some point I started to use a smiley face as a kind of signature, and then I guess it found its way into a couple of objects I’ve designed as well. I think it’s a good symbol, and I really appreciate design with figurative elements. For example I have a lamp above my bed that looks like the moon that I really like a lot. I’ve also designed a lot of figurative objects that don’t include a smiley face, and in my bachelor degree project Concretely Happy I set out with an ambition to investigate the need for a figurative narrative in design. I think this is something that was partly lost with Modernism, but it is also something, which we will hopefully see more of in the future.


| Nader | Your pieces are very playful, experimental in materiality as well as process. This is not what the outside world would usually characterize Swedish design as. How do you feel like you have been influenced by Swedish design, growing up in Sweden and/or rebelling against the perceived Scandinavian aesthetic.

Growing up I didn’t really have a notion of what something branded as Swedish design was supposed to look like or what it represented. When I started to study design I was intrigued by how common it was amongst students to follow some kind of Swedish/Modernist norm, and most of the time they didn’t even seem aware that they were doing it themselves.

I don’t have anything against Modernist design, in fact I absolutely love a lot of design defined as Modernist. What I have a hard time understanding though is designers working within a Modernist discourse that seems completely ignorant of their doing so. I feel that it is important that you are able to describe and understand why your design looks the way it does. It shouldn’t look the way it does because of some rules set up by a norm but if it does you should at least be aware the style you are following as a designer. I don’t necessarily feel that I’m rebelling against the perceived Scandinavian aesthetic; I’m just trying to do what feels the most compelling to me at the moment.


Photo Credit_ Tor Westerlund


Jonatan's Shifting Shape vase collection is among say hi to_'s curated selection at '1.000 Vases', a project between September 7-11th during Paris Design Week 2018. Don't miss it.

1.000 Vases
Espace Commines
17 rue Commines
75003 Paris
September 7-11th

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