Going back to basics
“The reality is that most of the current design brands are too slow and too indecisive, and out of touch with the new generation of customers,” says Scottish-Swedish designer Nick Ross. “I think we will continue to see more designers self-producing work, as well as starting their own commercial brands.”
During Stockholm Design Week Ross showcases two new bodies of work at The Swedish History Museum, made in solid wood and cast metal. The self-initiated collection balances his more traditional work with producers such as The Audo and +Halle. Ross is also involved in the experimental Copenhagen-based brand Niko June, which challenges the traditional notions of how a furniture brand operates. He says the exhibition Primitive Arrangements is about going “back to the basics.”
“I’ve always been interested in early forms of architecture, and how humans have arranged stones and other materials to create structures for both practical and religious purposes. The objects in the exhibition are simple, and showcase my approach to design in its most basic form. It’s a back to basics approach which I feel has value in today’s complex and fractured society.”
Primitive Arrangements is on show at the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm September 5-17 2023.
Hanna Nova Beatrice
TNE What ideas started this project?
NR The project actually started back in 2020 when I was doing a residency in Buenos Aires. Whilst there I created a chair in polystyrene which was then cast in Bronze. But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I had to leave the country before I got the chance to see the final piece. When I got back to Stockholm I wanted to continue working with Bronze but didn't have the right context for showing the work until now. Meanwhile, I continued working on a similar series of objects which are made from solid wood. When talking with the museum in Stockholm I thought it might be interesting to show both of these collections together, as I like the way they relate to each other aesthetically.
TNE How hands-on have you been in the process of making these pieces?
NR The wooden objects are made from thick pieces of solid cherry, maple and mahogany. These are made in my studio, so will be the first objects made by myself without any other outsourced production. The cast metal objects are made of Aluminium, Aluminium Bronze and Red Bronze. These are produced in a foundry outside of Copenhagen from mdf patterns made in my studio.
TNE How is your studio set up?
NR My studio is in the south of Stockholm and is a hybrid space in many ways, as I need to be able to work both digitally as well as physically. My days are pretty varied in terms of what I do in the studio. One day I sit at the desk, working on a 3D file that needs to be sent to a producer, and the other day I can be grinding metal in the workshop. I like the variety.
TNE We are going through quite challenging times with one bride following the other. How do you feel this affects you as a designer?
NR I have always tried to work in a very rational way, even when creating unique work. I am a firm believer that one of our many roles as designers is to be able to navigate these crises in creative ways. I feel like it's been one crisis after another since I graduated from design school, and I don’t really see that changing anytime soon.