Published . Words by Petrus Palmér. Photography by Erik Wåhlström.
Recently awarded the Bruno Mathsson Award 2016, graphic, product and identity designer Clara von Zweigkbergk is the the living manifestation of the multidisciplinary design role. With close ties to land-winning danish design brand HAY and with new work for Nike and Louis Poulsen, Clara is designing our daily surroundings — but she does it best between 4 and midnight.
Why do you do what you do?
I have never considered anything else really. As a teenager I had a great passion for type and calligraphy, as well as drawing, sowing, carpentry, making jewellery, etc. I was very happy to find out there were schools and professions for these things. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I do.
What does your average workday look like?
If it is a nice day I take the 25 minute bike ride to our studio in Södermalm. This is a perfect occasion to think about what to do this particular day but often my thoughts drift in all directions and I arrive to work without a precise plan. There is always more to do than time so it is much about making priorities, and I start the day writing a to do list and go over it with my colleagues. Then most of the morning time goes to e-mails and phone calls. In the afternoon I get my best focus and if I am lucky get in to a creative flow and then I would just like to stay at the office the whole evening. Sometimes I do and feel I get more done between 4 and midnight than I would in a week.
What has changed?
The best change for me has been to be able to work with companies all around the world, thanks to e-mail and Skype. People with similar taste and interest can easily find each other now. But nothing is better than a real life workshop, so I also travel quite a bit.
I work quite a lot by hand, building paper models etc, because I prefer it and it gives me time to reflect, and act upon new things that occur while having it in my hand, so the design process itself has not changed so much. But it obviously is easier and quicker to conclude a project with 3D software.
What is easier now then before?
It is not necessarily easier, but I have more knowledge of my design process now and do not get as wound up if it turns out really bad in the beginning, I know I just have to keep on working and I also know that no time is wasted, one idea may not work for this project but for another. One thought leads to another.
What is harder now then before?
Before everything was exposed to the world via internet, I am sure there must have been more freedom for exploration and failure. Now things go faster, and they are presented to everyone at once. This makes the design industry more concerned about speed and trends. But of course, on the whole this exposure is mostly positive, as it has helped designers and producers to reach out to a larger audience.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career doing what you do?
If you are willing to work hard and have the passion, go for it! Think through what you are good at, what you can become better at, and what your goals are. Save money, take chances that are presented to you and make the most of it. Be curious, innovative, patient and make it fun!