Composed of Anna Lindgren and Sofia Lagerkvist, Front Design is known for creating playful and avant-garde objects. Switching between research-driven and experimental projects, the eponymous Swedish design studio embraces tactile and surprising elements to give their designs a sense of magic. Their recent project, Seven stories about mirrors, follows the evolution of mirrors throughout history. It is based on traditional techniques and various materials, and offers a new set of mirror objects designed from interwoven cultural and historical references. TLmag speaks with the designers of the process behind Seven stories about mirrors, the magic of everyday objects, and the search for the unexpected.
TLmag: How does your Front Design collaboration work?
Front Design (FD): We always work together on the development of concepts and the realization of all our projects, based on each other’s ideas. We have found a great way to collaborate in the creative process together, starting with discussions where we find words to define what our project is all about. For us, it’s a very inspiring way of working, and it’s also a lot more fun to work in a group than alone. You can share the experience, celebrate together when something is going well, and have support if something is not so well. It is a privilege to have a business with your best friend.
TLmag: With such a deep-rooted practice, how do you keep the sense of originality in your creations? What are you looking for inspiration?
FD: It is important for us to constantly develop our understanding of the world around us and to find new areas of inspiration. In the studio we always have self-initiated projects, research projects and experiences where inspiration comes from an unexpected angle and approach to design. For these projects, our starting point is to try and do something that no one has done before. Sometimes this is possible, like making a lamp that blows soap bubbles; or a digital tool to draw digital furniture in the air, giving the furniture its shape from a landscape. It is a very important part of our work.
We also design projects in collaboration with brands such as Vitra, Moroso, Moooi, Kvadrat, Thonet GTV and Tom Dixon. In the process of these collaborations, we believe that much of the inspiration lies in the conversation with these companies. Every collaboration is different. Research and curiosity are two of our most important tools in this process.
TLmag: Can you tell me a little bit about your common fascination with magic, and how it fuels the items you create?
FD: We are fascinated by the way magicians work, how they use everyday objects that anyone can recognize, and how they play with the expectations of an object. We hope to make people look at ordinary objects in a different way.
TLmag: In the Seven Stories About Mirrors project, you (re) designed the same object through different historical lenses and a variety of techniques. What did this process look like?
FD: We wanted to follow a typology of objects and see how it evolves over time and how an object can transform its function, materiality, value and status over time. The mirror has been transformed from a rare and very exclusive object – in the 15th century the cost of a Venetian mirror was comparable to the cost of a warship – to become a constant presence in our daily life. It was a fascinating journey to learn what impact mirrors have had on society and culture. They have been used as tools for divination, as well as artistic and technical achievements, like the telescope and the microscope, which have given people the ability to see beyond what can be seen with the naked eye.
TLmag: You have also engaged in various collaborations with traditional glass artisans to create these objects. How did this experience go??
FD: We were particularly interested in finding craftsmen who work with know-how passed down from generation to generation. We have found businesses that have been in the same family for almost 700 years. They work with incredible skill and expertise, which unfortunately risk getting lost as the industry advances and production moves to other places around the world. Collaborating with these artisans and better understanding their techniques has been very fascinating. We were able to merge some very old techniques with new ones to develop something unique, and it is a technique that we are very interested in continuing to work with for future projects.
TLmag: Humor and surprise also seem to play a role in your practice. How do you approach design in general?
FD: We always start every project as something new. We try to never fall for “style”. We’re happy if we can add something unexpected to a project, and hope to pique people’s curiosity about an object so that they want to explore it more.
Seven stories about mirrors is currently on view at Galerie Kreo, Paris, until July 24.
All images are courtesy of Front Design.