Published . Words by Petrus Palmér. Photography by Erik Wåhlström.
Minna Palmqvist is one of Sweden’s most prominent new fashion designers and artists. Starting out with artisanal clothing in Finland and completing a masters degree in textile from Konstfack, Minna now showcases her work around the globe, most recently “The Future Of Fashion Is Now” at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. Minna’s constant theme is to explore how we see the female body and the female and non-male being in society.
Why do you do what you do?
Because I can not stop. Sometimes when times are tough I always think “I quit”, but I can’t. It is like my frustration with and my love for fashion are just equally big, and this tension drives me to constantly move forward and twist and turn stuff around and see what I could make of it. The constant theme of my work is how we look upon the female body and the female and non-male being in society – how the body is seen as an object there to please others and for others to have comments on. It is a never ending source of frustration and inspiration and since I think these questions are very well addressed through fashion, I do what I do. Not because I think I can solve it. But to start discussions.
What does your average workday look like?
When I am solely working on my own projects and collections, I get to my studio in Liljeholmen in Stockholm around 9. Drink a huge cup of strong black coffee with my lovely office colleagues, and then I open my computer to check of my e-mails. After this, it can take any direction. I am extremely bad at keeping routines. I am dreaming about becoming a routine person, but I just can not seem to do it. So usually I do ten things at the same time. Sewing a sample, realizing I have to take something to the post office, coming back, starting to search for inspiration, realize I was sewing something, continue sewing and so on. I am quite a mess.
Right now I am in Sliperiet in Umeå on a residency, since January until September, learning new digital techniques and machines, and just experimenting and researching to see what happens with these tools. Could they be useful in my work process? Can I make some of my prototypes here? What happens if I take my very hands-on analog way of working and force it into the digital world? When here I sleep a bit too long, and my days are floating between different working studios and sample making, and I start and finish my day with a 40 minute walk along the beautiful Umeå Älv.
Last summer I realized I was about to hit the wall from working like crazy for maybe 6 years, so getting this opportunity to land a little and to find the way back to creativity without constant stress has been such a great thing.
What has changed?
The most recent change is my work pace. I wanted to do everything before. I said yes to everything. I was so afraid to miss The Moment when everything would fall into place. Instead I think I maybe missed that moment because I was too stressed to see it. Now, I am trying to me much nicer to myself and to ask for more help. The dream is to find a more organic way of working than before. The first step for me is to not work by seasons. It really killed my vibe doing that. But it is hard to let go when the option is still not really clear. I am still figuring it out.
What is easier now then before?
It is easier to communicate my work and my ideas, since I have reached out to a bigger crowd. I do not have to explain every millimeter of my work anymore, and I do not have to overthink all my design decisions since I have a lot of old ideas to take from, plus I have become a bit better about thinking that if I am the person doing this thing, my values and my story will be there without me trying too hard.
What is harder now then before?
My performance anxiety just gets worse and worse with every project I do. I have extremely high expectations on myself, and I am never ever pleased with the results. I am most happy while I am in the process and I see my work growing. I hate when deadlines cut my workflow off.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career doing what you do?
Be smarter than me. Have a business partner who can be half your brain when it comes to decision making and planning. And win the lottery, haha.
But if you are sure you want to do it, be stubborn, have great friends and family who will be there through the ups and downs, and go for it!