August 31, 2009

Lighting the Way Between the Visible and the Invisible

An Interview with Designer Roseline de Thelin

Part 1 of 2 (link to Part 2)
Click on any image to increase size to original quality

This is the story of The Crystal Spider
Who started her days by painting and more
Later helping in great places where others
Would sing of battles won and love that was lost

You see, The Crystal Spider had learned
About how to enjoy creating in a great place
Of beauty, history, romance and culture
Yet she wanted to see more of the world

One day as Spiders like to do she asked the
Wind to take her to a distant land where
She learned of new ways and inspirations
So much so that she asked him to take her back one day

Over the next years she would return to this
Magical place to learn and to feel the ways there
And it was here that one day she found the Magic Stones
That sang to her of places beyond and between

The Crystal Spider eventually landed on an island
Of great freedom and peace and it was here
That she began to use the feelings the Magic Stones gave her
To make new webs that sang stories of the Light and the Earth

Her webs were beautiful, drawing others to view them
From around the special island filled with flowers and friends
To see how she would make mirrored and jewelled
Webs that would transform the way their eyes could see

This was a special beginning time for the Spider even as
She travelled more, even to a land with a language unknown,
Learning a new way of looking at the world and hoping for
Life even if there was a fear of a Death that might befall

Today the Crystal Spider spins her pieces as the
Heavens send her messages, playfully sharing
The hopes and dreams even the smiles of Time
And Man, across the seas and the boundaries
In the realms of Light

Forgive me all, I certainly don’t mean to make light (no pun intended) of
Roseline de Thelin’s stunning collection of art – which spans painting, photography, jewellery making, sculpture and so much more (noting as well ‘The Crystal Spider’ originates from her collections and even her own contact e-mail address). But since I began learning about Roseline’s interesting journey to reach the place she is today, I noticed that I always had the feeling of just reading an ‘Aesop’s fable’ or children’s story or even fairy tale whenever I viewed her work. It’s hard to explain, yes, but perhaps it is from the sense of play and innocence she includes both as she works and in her works. Or perhaps I, too, am receiving some of her special ‘radio’ signals that broadcast their own special form of inspiration.

From the days of receiving her Master’s Degree in Arts Management in Paris and later as a stage manager and artistic coordinator for operatic production for the Chatelet Theater in Paris and the Palais Omnisports in Paris Bercy, Roseline’s journeys have taken her to some fascinating places – both literally and figuratively. She would later enjoy a one-year Residency Scholarship for painting and sculpture in India, returning several times over the next years to this land where she would find so much inspiration. It was also here that she would eventually purchase 20 kilograms of semi-precious stone beads and start working with quartz and other gems. And her love relationship with light – and a means of expressing this love – would begin to flourish as never before.

Since then Roseline has developed a very unique and stunning visual style, creating among other objects kinetic mobiles, light reflectors, light installations, chandeliers ... and that’s only just to name a few. She is also well-known for her sparkling light projections and even the hauntingly beautiful multi-media performances that she often arranges to accompany her exhibitions and releases of new works. Ziggy Nixon is very pleased to catch up with Roseline, who graciously gave us a few moments of her time, interrupting her busy schedule working on new projects through the unrelenting summer heat of the Spanish island paradise of Ibiza:


Roseline, I notice that the descriptions about your work and even different pieces feature both a kind of ‘spiritual’ or even ‘cosmic awareness’ (be it from the Mayans or Chopra or others) plus even a touch of fantasy or folklore to them – for example, I enjoyed your description of ‘
Time Smiles’ as being ‘a cosmic and poetic project.’

But the more I looked at your different pieces (your web-site is fantastic, by the way!!), I also sense as well what appears to be a good dose of philosophy. Do you consider yourself – or perhaps better said your work then to be philosophical in nature or in it’s message?
I always find myself drawn to subjects or forms that question my own perception of reality. And as we are all mostly fixed in our own pre-determined perception of reality, I like to create pieces that play with our perceptions and senses. By doing this, I am trying to open new possibilities on an existential level.

As I evolved in my creative process, I came to see life as being full of parallel possibilities and realities – or even dimensions if you want to think of it that way. And light became very naturally my medium – my choice for a language or vehicle with which I could play with illusion and reality.

I don’t know if you’d consider that philosophical; perhaps it’s metaphysical? Either way, my work can definitely sometimes be very profound – even though I don’t like to be too serious when I’m exploring such questions or especially when I work. My creative process is very playful and I feel an endless, almost child-like thirst for discovery.

I also try to bring the viewers into this questioning experience in a lighter way, easing them into an understanding through their feelings and sensations with a piece. And light is such a sensual medium. So what counts first is what people feel when they see the work. If this experience leads them deeper into the concept and context of inspiration, then I am happy.

Where do you think this comes from?
I see myself as a sort of receptor-emitter, kind of like a two-way radio. Subjects come to me like energy waves which I somehow download! I get a vision, a dream and then it unfolds, grows and finds it’s shape. I feel I am only helping it take form.

The downloading step is the fun part! After that comes all the technical and organisational tasks. To me, it is a very magical process that gives both pleasure and pain.

A couple of technical questions if you don’t mind: looking again at ‘Time Smiles’, you use photographic prints on aluminium as part of the medium. How were these created?
I love to photograph light in all it’s manifestations. In this case, the prints on aluminium are photographs I took of various light sculptures of people. I made then a series of photographs shot around the work (soon to be seen on the web-site).

Afterwards, these are printed digitally on a flat bed printer using inks which have a thick mat texture. Another interesting effect is achieved because the ‘colour’ white is not printed, which leaves parts where the reflective aluminium is still visible. That is difficult to see in the photograph of the print. But I quite like the result and have received a good response from the public for these works.

Do you also handle the electronic part of your works? It seems this aspect would be difficult to manage with some of your pieces, that is, in terms of combining the functional elements (wiring, bulbs, etc.) of a piece with the limited space or fragile materials?
I generally handle the electrical mounting myself, learning along the way when I use new technologies. When I need electronic programming or other, more complex effects, I find people to do the necessary work.

For example, with the ‘homo luminosos’ in the exhibition ‘Time Smiles’, I prepared the characters in a 3D animation program and then created a mapping for the optic fibres. That was definitely a bit complex for the first one. Luckily, I know a specialist nearby who can help with these kind of technical issues. (shown here: pieces from ‘Changing Weather’)

You often include ‘performance art’ – mixing drama, story telling, dance, music and more – with gallery introductions and new releases of your works. Why the attraction to this kind of presentation?
After the conceptual and technical preparation of the show, I invite other artists – including musicians, dancers, theatre actors – to help me create a performance together in the décor and atmosphere of the exhibition. I define the first conceptual frame lines and we start from there. For me, using this platform of the exhibition to ‘reflect and play’ with other artists is a very juicy experience. This is like the icing on the cake for me!

I especially love the ‘ping pong’ action of the creative dynamic, that back and forth in the creative process where we grow from each other and with each other. And especially when showing work, the platform of the exhibition gives me a whole new space-time possibility to present my artistic vision. And I love to use this way of presenting my work to push myself forward to the next quantum leap, both conceptually and technically.

Being located on the island of
Ibiza allows me to create and collaborate in this way a lot. Ibiza is somewhat of a ‘microcosm’ that offers a soft and friendly ground to experiment with creative interaction. In fact, I would actually love to apply more of my work in creative groups like this for both theatrical situations and interactive installations. Plus, the platform of the exhibition gives me the possibility to record the work in order to present it later via catalogue, DVD, web-site presentations, and more. In this way, I am able to offer new concepts to my web of clients for project work.

Forgive me for asking what is perhaps an obvious question, but where would a piece such as ‘Homos Luminosos’ most likely be placed or otherwise said, to whom would it be sold? In cases like this, do you design for art’s sake or are you typically creating pieces primarily based on commissions or other assignments (for example, I’d love to find out how Ute Hübler – who I know from other
projects and artists – fits into all this interesting work!)?
In this case, the work is sold to the public as single art pieces.

In terms of timing, one exhibition project every 2 years feels like a good rhythm now. The rest of the time I work on assignments or commercial applications of my concepts and techniques. I would say that about 70% of my work is designing decorative pieces – derived from my different concepts – which are commissioned by private clients, decorators and architects for public or private spaces.
This is where Ute and I fit together perfectly, because she does such a good job of promotion with the professionals like architects and interior designers. She really helps translate my own vision into the kind of work the different clients need for their various projects, spaces and more.

Continued in Part 2


All images and other materials used with express written consent of the artist. These may not be used or copied in any way without permission of Roseline de Thelin.

Kindly note that some images have been modified slightly for either the purpose of sizing or to include more images (e.g. as used in combination). In all cases, please refer to for full details, including materials, photographic credits, original lay-outs and more.

Lighting the Way Between the Visible and the Invisible

An Interview with Designer Roseline de Thelin

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
Click on any image to increase size to original quality

In the series ‘
Changing Weather’, you strive to balance some of the problems found in modern China (and of course across the rest of the world as well) with Chinese philosophy. How did your fascination with China arise or was this just a ‘convenient’ platform to generate a bigger message? It seems at least that your ultimate focus or even message is one of hope or at very least for a positive future. Do you think that is the case?
There is always a natural flow that brings me into the theme of an exhibition. Nothing is convenient or forced. In terms of the beginnings for the ‘Changing Weather’ work, I went for the first time to China in 2003. Life invited me there.

When I arrived, I was fascinated by the transformation going on. It was almost like sticking my fingers into an electrical plug, it was so powerful. I could feel the energy of change going through me. And it’s not just limited to being there: the changes in China are defining the world of the next decades, so it was quite fascinating.

I have always felt connected to Asian symbolism. I spent a lot of time in India, and this is where I was also introduced to gem stones. Some years later when quartz crystal, mirrors and light were becoming my new mediums, I naturally found interest in Feng shui and realised – not surprisingly – that these materials are considered as ‘chi-energy activators’. (following images from ‘
Changing Weather’, based on photographic stills of moving images used in the exhibition, see link for full details)

I also studied the symbolism of the
I Ching, the Chinese philosophy of changes. I found myself resonating with the symbolic understanding of the cycles of life that is such a large part of Chinese philosophy, noting that when I went to China, I spoke no Chinese. But I still felt that I could somehow read and understand the state of evolution of the country using it’s own symbolic grid, the I Ching.

And so, I went back to China in 2005 and started to define the concept of the exhibition ‘Changing Weather’ that would be presented in Ibiza in 2006 and in Hong Kong in 2007. And in terms of the symbolism, I wanted to express that beyond the fear of what the climate changes might mean for the human population globally, that there is the hope for a new cycle to come. That there is the possibility for our population to change and learn to live in a sustainable way, because if we don’t, then we will be faced with the end of our very existence. I also believe that rebirth always comes after death; that is in fact the ‘message’ of the I Ching and of the exhibition. In terms of the climate changes we are facing and how far into this kind of death realm we will have to go to reach rebirth… well, I don’t know…

Unfortunately, it just so happened that during the time of preparation of the exhibition, the world was going through a series of deadly catastrophes. And this just made me even more aware of what is happening to our planet. I have been concerned with ecological issues for years and I felt that these terribly painful events could awaken a greater global concern about climate change. I actually feel that things have been starting to move and change since then, so yes, I am hopeful in that way.

So with the exhibition, my idea was to suggest a possible ‘rebirth’ or new cycle for the world coming from the climate change, before it is too late. You see, after spending time in the highly populated-polluted Chinese cities, I was dreaming of China finding new ways to sustain the future megalopolises, these unbelievably large city-centres. So I created a symbolic light tableau of this dream using Chinese imagery in combination with high-tech/low-energy consuming lighting.

In the end it was important for me to express this as a very optimistic vision; it is a dream about the possibility of changes and of light within the darkness in the endless cycles of life and death.

You use a very broad selection of different materials in your pieces, including metallic materials and leafing, plastics, iron works (e.g. for furniture pieces), photographs, glass, fibre optics and much more. How do you work with, test and/or combine all these different materials to find just the right combination that gives you either the reaction to light or reflectivity that you desire?
I’m always looking at what has been done and how it works, trying new things out, experimenting with prototypes, etc. Here again it is a process that defines itself as the piece unfolds.

You also use quite a lot of crystal and other minerals in your pieces, very cool. How did your work with these materials start (I’ve seen the story about returning from India and then buying the first kilograms of crystals)?
That’s how it started: playing with those first 20 kgs of crystal beads!

You’ve also written that ‘quartz manipulates energy, activates and transforms the vital Chi.’ Certainly many believe that crystals and other such materials provide not only healing but can also enhance spiritual well-being. Is this something you also subscribe to or how do these materials otherwise ‘speak’ to you?
Quartz crystals have electromagnetic properties that we are only starting to understand scientifically. For me, this electromagnetic field is a doorway, a path to a ‘parallel reality’.

I believe they can interact with our own magnetic field and therefore influence our bodies and minds. It is a subtle level of energy that is rarely consciously felt. For me, it is like the sensation one gets after swimming in the sea, because salt water is very conductive, so it refreshes both our magnetic fields as well as our bodies.

The themes of earth, air, water, fire, etc. feature a number of times into different pieces, as shown here below for example from your ‘
Lightscapes’ series. How do you view your own connection to the earth and the environment?
I feel deeply connected to nature and never get tired of it’s beauty. I am part of it and try to be as good as to it as I am to myself.

Do you think that as an artist you have a particular responsibility to the environment or even to social issues?
Art always reflects on society, it is up to each artist to feel or not responsibility. I feel responsibility to the environment in my daily life, and I wish everyone would take steps to adjust to the needs of our modern world. I try to take steps in the choice of the materials and of the lighting I use in my work. That becomes part of the concept and promotes the idea.

You are perhaps best known for your lighting pieces, but obviously your collections feature other works including furniture, sculptural works, screens and webs and even ‘2+D’ (two-plus dimensional = more than 2D but perhaps slightly less than 3D) paintings.

First, because I particularly liked the works on wood in ‘
The Crystal Spider’ collection (I love any method to increase ‘texture’ in pieces a la Van Gogh or Giacometti), do you try to vary your works, that is, do you work for a while on light pieces, then switch over to painting, etc. or does it depend on your inspiration (or just even when the assignments come in)?
In the context of the exhibition I use media that resonate with the subject. Again, I will often use such spaces to experiment with new technologies. The use of new technologies or techniques is exciting and challenging. Also, when I create a decorative prototype I follow the inspiration that comes from using particular materials with a particular form.

On the other hand, when I work on assignment I look for the best combination of the medium and the form to answer the need. So this can change a lot within the range of possibilities.

Do you in fact have a particular preference among all the different styles – functional or artistic – that you have worked on?
No, this is all part of the process. And I love it all! I always like to introduce changes and experimentation in my work, either through form or in the way a piece expresses my ideas.
(following 2 images combined from ‘
The Other Side of the Mirror’ collection)

Looking as well through your ‘
Now’ collection, I find myself wondering if you have to sit and wait throughout the day – and night – to make sure you have achieved just the right conditions either to test or place your lighting. How do you eventually get the ‘positioning’ then of the different pieces or light beams or whatever just right?
The study of the space where a piece will go is the foundation of the design, this is where it starts when I work on assignment.

Looking into the past a bit: How did you get involved in art and design in general?
I could not help but being drawn to it. That’s really all the explanation I have!

I’m also fascinated about your studies in India at the
J.J. School of Arts in Bombay (or do we have to call it Mumbai now?). How did this come about?
I travelled to India in 1989 and came back totally inspired. This was my first trip to India and I stayed for 3 months. When I came back, I decided to apply for a scholarship from the international artistic exchange program and received this in ’91-92.

I did not really study in the J.J. School of Arts, instead I had my own atelier in the city and was painting daily. My director of research was a painter,
Prabakar Kolte, who was an art teacher at J.J. He was a wonderful man and teacher, and was beloved by his students.

I was regularly meeting with him and his students during my stay. He guided me through the understanding of Indian art and introduced me to many artists. It was a very enriching experience that started me on my own creative journey.

Later then you settled on the island of Ibiza where you’ve said before ‘it’s one place that has never bored me. In Ibiza we can be ourselves. We are free.’ Why is Ibiza – which seems to have a very high concentration of artists for such a relatively small area – then a place of more freedom to you?
Freedom is a subjective thing that comes along with having choices in life. In my case, I think that being away from too many influences (cities), from too many possible choices (consumer world), gives me more freedom to really choose, more freedom to just ‘be’. Being free to choose the conditions in which we work and exist in is the real freedom for me.

In terms of laws and lifestyle, I’m sure you know that Ibiza used to be considered a place of ‘freedom’ in just about every sense of the word. Now – like the rest of Europe – it is becoming more regulated and controlled.

In terms of the people here, well, let’s say that there are lots of artists in Ibiza but not so much art. The permanent population of Ibiza is not more than 200,000 people spread out around the island on the shores and in the hills of a beautiful Mediterranean garden. Then in the summer, the island receives millions of visitors from all parts of the world, many of whom come to forget themselves or their lives by partying and going to clubs all night. But the local population and the ‘habitués’ know where to find the remote callas and can enjoy them without having to push our way through the masses of clubbers and often even hooligans.

Don’t misunderstand me: Ibiza is a good place for a receptor-emitter like me. I feel protected from too many social influences and still connected to the rest of the world. I get good reception for my ‘inner radio’ and also get great response to my work from the people here. My exhibitions draw lots of visitors and I have designed many beautiful pieces for some amazing local homes. I feel very blessed to receive this support from my community, which I consider to be my ‘web’. And it is this very international community that is also opening doors for me to the rest of the world.

My life is nice here, too. I live in the country surrounded by flowers and fruit trees, I can see the sea from my roof top. The nature is always there to be enjoyed through out all the seasons. The community is fun, international, loving and supportive. I have a great work space, and again, I am connected on-line to the outside world. And if I need it, the international airport is 20 miles from my home and being right in the centre of Europe, I can fly anywhere I want without too much trouble.

Still, being on an island does creates a feeling that you have a kind of distance from the rest of the world. This island, this ‘micro world’ as I call it, is in many ways a playground for experimentation, where emotions are often condensed and intense. This is a place where for the last 50 years a community of all nationalities has been mixing with the locals. It is a sort of hub for creative and extravagant outsiders: bohemian artists and freaks, gurus and spiritual seekers, jet-setters, survivors, pensioners, travellers, pirates, party animals, musicians, dancers, DJs and VJs, drug addicts and love addicts … ravers of all kinds.

And I am one of them…


As mentioned, Roseline is currently very busy getting together works that will go in a launch of a limited edition of decorative light objects in Perspex (also known as Plexiglas), among other pieces. She would like to invite everyone to visit her web-site as often as you can, because she loves to keep everyone updated to what’s going on and coming up, too!

We are also pleased to bring you at this link Roseline’s updated biography, which she kindly provided in support of this interview. Enjoy following Roseline through over 20 years of her journeys, exhibitions, and public pieces!


All images and other materials used with express written consent of the artist. These may not be used or copied in any way without permission of Roseline de Thelin.

Kindly note that some images have been modified slightly for either the purpose of sizing or to include more images (e.g. as used in combination). In all cases, please refer to for full details, including materials, photographic credits, original lay-outs and more.

Been A-tossin' and Turnin' All Night

Click on any image to increase to original size and quality
(by the way, if you’re wondering where you’ve heard these lyrics in the title before, see

I have been having a lot of trouble sleeping over the past couple of weeks. It’s mostly been a random combination of jet-lag, weather changes, Mrs.’s Nixon’s asthma acting up, some deep thinking that the holidays brought up, too much caffeine and general worried-ness concerning the job market out there. You see, I’m kind of a ‘pattern’ sleeper: if I get interrupted at approximately the same time more than 1 night in a row, I adopt that pattern. And no, drugs aren’t an option; not because of any moral quandary but because my therapist is still on holiday.

Still, some of the thoughts I’ve been having as I lie awake in bed have not been so bad. My biorhythms for creativity seem to be on a high right now (okay, maybe not in terms of writing but still) even though most of my thoughts involve either actions that would be frowned upon at 3 a.m. (darn my penchant for anything that involves hammering or smashing things) or trying to visualize certain mechanical, physical or even potentially metaphysical things that might potentially-possibly-just-maybe happen if I tried them. I mean, when you’re interested in new art types that involve melting things and you’re trying to work out three-dimensional flow coefficients and coordinates in your head, it gets a bit complex.

There have been though some basic questions that have been rattling in the vast cavernous, uh, cavern of my head and I thought I’d share one or two or a dozen or so of these with you now. And if any of these make you in fact suffer insomnia, like I said, I should be able to get my hands on the good stuff here in a few days and I promise to share:

Does It Seem to You Like More Famous People Are Dying These Days?
Or are we witnessing a peak in the natural outcome of our cultures’ fascination with famous peoples?

Recently another one of my childhood idols passed away – Walter Cronkite – who represented for me so many things that were good about the world I grew up in (I was also a pretty serious child and insisted on watching the news whenever I could). Granted he mostly reported on many things that were very bad about the world I grew up in, but he made it seem like it would somehow be okay. Walter made watching the news interesting, he made it cool to be into current events, and he looked like my Grandfather, or at least what I thought my Grandfather would look like if he grew a professional baseball player-type moustache (folks, this was the mid-70’s, bear with me). But I actually saw the announcement in a crowded restaurant and it was as if the air got sucked out of the whole building, as so many people just stopped and stared at the television screens in the bar.

The world has also seen in the last days the passing of
Kim Dae Jung, former President of South Korea as well as Ted Kennedy, essentially the last link to the powerful Kennedy trifecta of John, Bobby and now finally Ted. Think what you want of him, but the world over has been affixed to the Kennedy’s lives – and the lives of their children, wives, ex-wives, various cousins, aunts, uncles and more – for easily more than 5 decades.

But are we making a big deal out of it because it truly matters to us as individuals? Or has the media so entrenched us with this kind of celebrity voyeurism that we have to feel like we’re a part of it? I mean, seriously, how many years will the entire sordid story of Michael Jackson’s demise continue to follow us? Many of us are just now coming to terms with Elvis passing away, now this...

Speaking of which I would just like to share a brief word on the recent passing of Heinz Edelmann. Many of us are most familiar with Edelmann’s work due to his design contributions to the Beatles’ animated ‘Yellow Submarine’. But his offerings over the past decades to the world of art and design go much further than that.

I was fortunate enough recently to have the chance to learn much more about Heinz Edelmann’s work during my interview with Christoph Niemann, one of the many lucky design students that had the unique opportunity to work with this amazing and cutting edge illustrator and educator. (For more on Christoph as well, please continue to follow his NY Times blog, with the latest contribution found here).

Who Gets to Name Diseases?
Now, with the bombardment of the Pharmaceutical Industry’s constant advertising for medications (can’t breath? Take Alleeve! Want to stop smoking? Take Stopitall!), I am reminded that these companies spend millions if not billions and billions on the task of
naming their medications.

Now, I appreciate this exercise and it’s contribution to the success in the marketing of ANY product in that I was once on the periphery of a range-naming exercise for a ‘previous-employer-that-shall-not-be-named-but-it-doesn’t-matter-anyway-because-they-don’t-exist-anymore’. I respect the agencies that offer such services that are required for these tasks, including the testing for legal and copyright aspects, seeing how it sounds in various countries and so on. I know both how hard this process can be and then how hard it is to fight for acceptance within the company even before a name is released to the general public. So the naming of the medications I get (gosh, with a name like Alleve I know it will RELIEVE me!).

But the diseases themselves? I mean, for the longest time we’ve had ‘cancer’ or ‘heart attack’, honest names for terrible things that we can nevertheless still wrap our minds around. We have no problem at all going to the doctor and saying ‘I think I have an ulcer’ or ‘gosh darn, but I think my gout is acting up again and I’m all covered in icky red spots.’

Take ‘erectile dysfunction’ if you will (heck, even my spell-checker hates it). Now please stop giggling, this is a serious comment. Honestly, this just sounds absolutely horrible and I’m not just saying that just as a guy of the male persuasion.

It’s just that I truly wonder though how many people are just absolutely petrified about going to their doctor and actually admitting they have something that comes with the partial description of dysfunction. It just sounds so, I don’t know, dysfunctional – and we all know that term should be reserved for families (did I mention how frightening it sounds?). And it seems a tad confusing to me as well, there are even other parts of my body that need to be a little more erect in a kind of ‘stop slouching’ kind of way. I’m even willing to bet that if you asked 100 doctors, that at least 5 to 10 of them would say they’ve had women ask if they (the women, not the doctors) potentially had it.

Plus, are some diseases or let’s tone it down a bit and say, some maladies just being named for the cool acronyms they form? Like ADD: if you’ve ever met a kid that suffers from this, was your first thought ‘they have an attention deficit disorder’? No! I mean, who thinks like that? But it’s so convenient to talk about, quote, A D D, so why not make the name fit the acronym? There’s more sure, but I’m trying not to be too horrible at this. But while we’re at it:

Is The World Too Full of Acronyms?
Be honest: am I the only old fuddy-duddy that gets bothered by this? Is this a sign that I should get away from Facebook while I still have a chance?

This issue has bothered me ever since my little 5 ½ year old daughter got a tee-shirt that has about 50 different ‘texting’ abbreviations on it. I understood maybe 3 of them, including the little sideways smiley face = (;-) (whoa, even the winking one here, I am hipper than I thought!). But there were other ones that when I asked (again she’s not even 6 years old!) she looked at me with such a pained expression that said to me how truly embarrassed she would be for about the next 20 years or so about her father’s obvious stupidity. I even felt inclined to slink out of the room in shame.

Sure, there are acronyms that have stood the test of time in our everyday conversations : ASAP, PDQ, WTF (don’t ask, but it is what I thought when I saw this ad to the right) and more. But one that really gets to me is ‘LOL’ which in the vernacular of the permanently bent-over world of people texting on cellphones whilst ignoring what is happening around them (and for many in my neck of the woods, even while driving their cars, trucks, aircraft, etc.) means ‘Laugh Out Loud’.

Now sure, LOL is a great abbreviation for Laugh Out Loud, but again: who talks like this? Do you actually ever say ‘laugh out loud’ to anyone in normal conversation? ‘Oh golly, but that sure makes me laugh out loud!’ Anyone? Why not ‘TSF’ for ‘that’s so funny!’ We actually say the latter occasionally albeit not so often in my home (or at least not unless it’s said very sarcastically). But do we ever say it or gods forbid even do something that someone might point at and say: ‘Look Jimmy over there is laughing out loud! And TMCOHN!’ (okay that was juvenile [= there’s Milk Coming Out His Nose] but still...)

But here’s a true story (another aside): I knew someone once that I swear when they got invitations to parties, that they thought the ‘RSVP’ at the bottom of the card meant ‘really sweet, very pretty’. And she’d always think it was so kind of the inviting party to acknowledge that, yes, she had these qualities in such lovely abundance. I shudder to think what they thought of anyone who ended a note with ‘PS’...

Let’s change gears a bit:

Are The Arguments From the Far Right Even Sane?
Seriously, before we go another step I want you all to log on to , read what they have to say and then watch the little video at this link. Go ahead, I’ll wait and hum some Barry Manilow tunes to myself while you’re away. ‘Mornin', just another day, Happy people pass my way, Lookin' in their eyes, I see a memory, I never realized, How happy you made me, oh Mandy...’

Oh you’re back? Yes, friends, as you’ve just witnessed, there is an announcer on a major (+/-) channel in the USA that is actually going around saying not only is Obama a racist, but also implying that he may be (get this) THE ANTI-CHRIST. And this is what gets me: this guy is not even the HEAD OF IRAN, though I think they both use the same speech writer!!

These people just make me think of something I once said to my wife (noting the resulting two weeks of sleeping on the couch weren’t all bad, even though my back was suffering from erectile dysfunction for days afterwards): I said, ‘honey, honestly, I think if I want to win an argument in this house, I’m going to go outside and argue with a tree. At least I have a chance of arguing LOGICALLY with the tree...’ Yeah, I did indeed say that... but luckily I survived. So like I said, it was lonely downstairs for a while.

But there are a slew (‘a slew I wish they’d slay’, he thought morbidly) of people making these types of statements and ultimately arguments all over the place now. I mean, is it like saying to someone ‘I’m against war as a rule, even though I think it’s important that we help settle the situation in Afghanistan’ and they respond with ‘so you think killing innocent unborn babies is okay?’ Sorry, but say what? But it happens all the time, more and more, ad infinitum and ad nauseum! Try saying something like ‘universal health care is a good idea’ and you get ‘I will not surrender my country nor my guns to a commie like you’. Heck, forget the sanity part, is there just no civility left in terms of public debate anymore?

Don’t get me wrong: even though I believe in the premise of universal health care, I think the way the current administration is ‘selling’ it right now needs a lot of work. But you see so many people standing up and shouting ‘you cain’t (sic) have my country, you hippie bastard! Me and my people ain’t gonna stand at all fer this’!

It’s just... well, I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I saw someone stand up and say ‘I understand what you’re saying, but I’m just so afraid it will make the deficit go up beyond a level we can recover from and I just think right now the American government should be focused on other issues. So I’m sorry, but you do not have my support.’ I mean, I applauded, it was such a relief! That’s a legitimate, sanely stated counter-argument.

No, no, no – it doesn’t matter whether you agree or not, but it is a legitimate point of reasonable debate! What has happened to that, please? Is there some kind of new it-makes-you-foam-at-the-mouth transient form of rabies going around that we should all be worried about? Geez...

Does It Ever Freak You Out How ‘Recently’ Some Things Have Changed?
A few days ago – and again, keep in mind this entire diatribe is about lack of sleep – I was literally flabbergasted (a disease named in 1929 by doctors at the John Hopkins University Clinic) to read that on Aug. 26, 1920 – only 89 years ago according to my calculations – the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was passed. The issue? Guaranteeing women the right to vote. I mean, does it not freak you out to think that there are women alive that might remember a day that at least their older siblings or even mothers could not even vote in the USA?

Don’t get me started about civil rights even. I once worked at one of the departmental libraries in college, and one night when business was slow, I got into a conversation with some of the other, ‘professional librarians’ that worked with us who were in their early 50’s or so and all African Americans. It blew my mind to listen to them talk about riding in the back of busses, or having to drink from other water fountains or even worse. And in terms of time, it was only like yesterday! I mean, the hell with Woodstock, it’s these other anniversaries that make my mind reel.

I know I’ll get the same thing as the kids grow up, too. I just don’t WANT to think about that, because that reminds me of my own mortality. Yes, one day I, too, will suffer from dysfunctional expiring animated terminal hesitation, abbreviated to it’s better know acronym = DEATH.

What is the Big Deal About Homosexuals Getting Married?
This is one I don’t get, I just simply do not comprehend it. I guess my own beliefs never made room for the kind of xenophobic ranting that goes on to this issue.

Up front time folks: I’m not gay. Please don't hold that against me, it's just the truth is all. Heck, I don’t even like looking at my own body, let alone other men’s. But I have friends that are gay, I have family members that are gay, and I’ve met in my time a lot of really fine folks that either admitted up front or I found out later were gay. And that’s 100% perfectly fine with me. In my book, the only thing that counts – and this goes for sexual preferences, religious beliefs, and the whole spectrum of ‘stuff’ that is supposed to define us – if you’re cool with it, and you’re not hurting anyone, then fine. All I insist on is that no one – again see the short list – try to push their own beliefs on me, and I won’t do that either, even in the cases where I know that I’m right and almost everyone else in the world is wrong about at least something. Everyone cool with that?

But I mean, honestly, are you trying to tell me that all the nice conservative folks out there raising heck about this issue don’t stand to benefit at all from letting anyone and everyone marry? That there’s no right-leaning providers of wedding dresses, or flowers, or wedding jewellery, or catering services or – and this is the big one – even divorce lawyers waiting for their client base to increase by a factor of whatever it might be? Well, the Brits have a good word for this = bollocks. I’d bet my bottom dysfunctional dollar that the entire group of ‘em can’t wait to get their hands on the kind of disposable income that’s just waiting on them out there if we’d just say, ‘heck, you two guys or girls want to spend thousands on a one day bash like the rest of us? Be my guest (PS: that’ll be 30’000 dollars for the festival hall rental and the band, thank you so much)’.

And here’s another true story: if you follow these kinds of stories at all, India is in a bit of an uproar about legalizing homosexuality in any form. There are laws permitting it that apparently get passed, then rescinded and so on. But even though they won’t let gays be, well, gay, THEY WILL MARRY FROGS FOR LUCK (in this case, I mean, they marry the frogs to each other, though other on-line inputs talked of people marrying frogs as well)! I kid you not, just take a look at this picture, where the frogs even received gifts of gold jewellery!

(Is it just me, or are some of you wondering if those are two boy frogs? Wouldn’t that be just the most fantastically ironic thing ever?)

Here’s something that didn’t make me lose sleep, I just thought it was appalling, disgusting and more:
Did the Scenes of Celebration for the Freed Lockerbie Bomber in Libya Make You Sick?
Sorry, compassion was shown even though there was a lot of – well-grounded mind you – uproar and emotive discussion on the issue. I really felt for the Scottish judge who really must have gone through hell (and is no doubt not finished) over his decision.

Then that was thrown back in the face of everyone affected by this heinous act and really the rest of the world as well by the appalling display once this monster landed in Libya. There should be no more tolerance for a regime that has snubbed its nose at the civilized world for far too long now. The scenes of jubilation and celebration just go to show that not all ‘humans’ should be counted as such and if you want to add other worn out statements to same, well, obviously a leopard never changes it’s spots.

‘Nuff said.

And finally, because I should probably right this up (and our 50 minutes of solo therapy are about done), I leave you with this thought:

Is The Abundance of On-Line Reporting Leading to Irresponsible Headlines?
Now just read this head-line and think for a few minutes before reading on:

What Britney Spears Can Reveal About Alzheimer's Disease

What did I tell you? It’s actually from a very interesting article about mapping brain activity depending on how we recognize given famous persons and the relation of the wave patterns in terms of our proclivity to Alzheimer’s, which as you can see here once had a rather interesting title as well. It seems indeed to be a very strong study on a disease – a well-named disease we would add – that needs to be cured and now, particularly as the means to do so are indeed available (oops, now I know what will keep me up tonight).

But did the article mention, say, Fidel Castro, Walter Cronkite or even Ted Kennedy? No, it was Britney Spears. Personally, I would think that someone NOT suffering from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s shouldn’t even have to remember Britney, that would be healthy to me.

I just think these Internet dudes and dudesses are having way too much fun with their headlines these days. Seriously : ‘Suicidal Planets’? Whoa, scared you didn’t we? It’s really just an astronomy article about a planet they found that is too close to it’s sun to survive! Ha, got you (and besides we know that what’s really happening ‘out there’ is that planets are looking to attack us, not commit suicide!!)! ‘Landslide in Japan’? Okay, that’s pretty normal but instead of a horrible natural disaster, it’s more of a political thing it seems ‘(we’ll see how horrible it winds up being apparently in the next months).

Even my favorite in the past days, read it and tell me what you think it means:

Pack your trunk and leave the beach!
(the small print summary actually states : ‘A French town has banned circus elephants from bathing at its beaches over concerns the animals' excrement could pollute the water and pose a health hazard to other swimmers.’ Well, that’s nice but I’m still not going back to any French beaches any time soon... I mean, the heck with sharks, can you imagine suddenly catching a wave of elephant poop in your face?)

Okay folks, sleep well. Me? I’m gonna go take a nap, I just re-read this and now I think I can make it.

I knew I wrote these darn things for good reasonzzzzzzzz....

August 30, 2009

Biography - Roseline de Thelin

This updated complete biography serves as accompaniment to the interview 'Lighting the Way Between the Visible and the Invisible' (full details provided by the artist):

Web-site :
Born 1964

- Creation of light piece for Hotel Astra Paris
- Creation of light pieces for private homes Spain, England
- Creation of collection of limited edition of Perspex light objects for
shop ‘The Rose Ibiza’, including lights and mobile sculptures.
- Creation of collection of jewellery (Copper-Natural stones)

- Exhibition “Time Smiles” in Atzaro Art Lounge
Light installation with light sculptures, photographic prints on
aluminium, including performance with dancers.
- Creation of Mirror lights for Club Aura – Ibiza
- Creation for foundation Born Global – Norway
2 light sculptures “Spiral of light” and “Curtain of Dreams”
- Creation of light pieces for private homes in USA, Spain and England.

- Exhibition “Changing Weather” : a new Chinese Lightscape
10 Chancery Lane Gallery - Hong Kong China (May 2007)
Light installation with light sculptures, video and digital art
- Co-curator for “project 5”, international group exhibition – Theme the 5 Chinese elements and environmental issues.
Held during 2008 games in Art Channel gallery - Beijing China
- Project of Installation “Time Factory” for Lobby langham Place - Hong Kong
- Creation for Pacific Restaurant Lounge - Monaco
Fibre optic chandelier
- Creation of decorative light pieces for private homes.

Travel to China
- Design of collection of “healing” jewellery in Bangkok - Thailand
- Exhibition “Changing Weather” : a new Chinese Lightscape (first version)
Light sculptures and light installation
- Creation of performance “Chinese Time Factory” - Atzaro art lounge - Ibiza
- Creation of gem and fibre optic lights for shop “Madame des Vosges” Paris
- Design of collection of jewellery for shop “Madame des Vosges” - Paris
- Creation of light pieces for private residence - London
- Creation of several “Crystal Curtains” for private residences - London

Works focus on the process of transformation using light as a transformative medium
- Curator for program of “4 exhibitions – 4 artists – 4 mediums”
Atzaro Art Lounge - Ibiza
- Exhibition “Lightscapes” - Light objects and light sculptures.
- Creation of installation “Ice Cube”, an aura rebalancing experience with colour and sound waves. Atzaro Art lounge - Ibiza
- Creation for Beauty Salon NEUS - Spain
“The body and the elements”, a series of photographic light boxes

Travel to China
- First creation of fibre optic chandeliers and fibre optic webs
compositions with quartz beads mounted on the fiber and lit
from inside.
- Exhibition “Entering the photon band” in club El Ayoun Ibiza
A series of light sculptures including fibre optic, quartz crystal,
webs, Plexiglas and photographic collages.
- Creation for Restaurant ”Iniga” - London
Fibre optic chandelier and large quartz and mirror light installation
- Creation for Bar “Café del mas” - Paris.
“Jewel” and “mirror” wall lights

- Developing design of ''Mirror'' lights and ''Jewel'' lights
- Developing design of “Crystal webs” chandeliers and light
- Creation for winery ''Mas de Valoussière'' - France.
''Grape Chandelier'', large modern chandelier, centrepiece
of mirrors and quartz.
- Studio ''Happening'' on the theme of water and light.
Installation of kinetic mirror installation with video projections
creating moving' 'layers'' of fragmented reflections and diffractions

- Creation for Club ''Nirvana Lounge'' - Paris
A project from Claude Chales and French interior designer Jonathan Amar, 6 meter long modern chandelier, theme of the piece : "Crossing through the light spectrum", materials included gem stones, quartz crystal and mirrors.
- Creation for private residence- England
Set of 3 “Crystal Curtains”, and kinetic mirror installation for indoor swimming pool room.

Work develops around the theme of light, including experimenting with reflection, diffraction, and transparency.
- Creation of “light reflectors” series, kinetic compositions of
gold copper and silver mirrors with quartz crystal.
- Creation of “light sculptures”, lattice of quartz and semi precious
beads on wire webs.
- Creation for international interior designer Kelly Hoppen - London
Large ''Crystal Door''(2 x 3 m) for residence in St. Tropez - France.
- Studio ‘‘happening''
Kinetic mobiles, light reflectors, projections, performance, around the concept of passing through the crystal door and the transformations that may occur...

1998 - 2000
The gems become a medium.
- Creation of kinetic mobiles using crystals, gems, mirrors, beads,
feathers, shells, Tibetan bells...
- Creation of first ”Crystal Curtain” made of quartz and gem stones for private residence - Spain.

1995 – 1997
Several travels to India
- I buy 20 Kg of semi precious stones beads in Jaipur India and start working with gem stones
- Design of Jewellery and accessory collections experimenting with intimate and energetic relationships between skins and natural coloured stones. Selling in Paris, London and New York
-Continuing with mix media painting and collages.

1993 - 1994
Paper collages series.
- Exhibition in ''Galerie de Hesdin'' - Paris
- Exhibition ''Galerie Es Moli'' - Ibiza.

- One year Residency Scholarship for painting and sculpture in Bombay India, Program of International Cultural Exchanges from French Foreign Office
- Exhibition at the National Center for Performing Arts – Bombay India, Paintings ''Ragas and Razas, Colours and Emotions from the walls of Bombay''

1987 – 1991
Stage manager and artistic coordinator in operas production
for Chatelet Theater Paris and Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy.
Including major stage productions of popular opera such as
Nabucco, Carmen, Faust, several musicals and classical concerts.

- Master's Degree in Art Management
Dauphine University Paris
- 1 year course in Ecole du Louvres (1985 - 1986)
History of Contemporary Art – Course of Bernard Blistène
- 3 years courses in Ecole des Beaux Arts Paris (1988 - 1991)
Drawing, Painting and Sculpture

August 15, 2009

Helping Make Your Blue Sky Tangible

An Interview with Experimental Design Consultant Michael Kangas

Part 1 of 2 (link to
Part 2)
click on any image to enlarge it to original size

Since I began talking with Michael Kangas of
Dry Ice Design, I’ve been trying to think of a good word to describe both he and his work focus as a so-called ‘experimental design consultant’. As my vocabulary is typically limited to words of 3 syllables at most, or even 4 in rare occasions (O-cay-zhi-ons; hm, call that one 3-and-a-half), this was – as you can imagine – not easy for me. All kidding aside, it was also not easy as Michael’s work can not be described so succinctly.

I think, however, that if I did have to choose, the best word to use in order to bring across the main message of his work would have to be ‘dichotomy’. Yes, I know: dichotomy is certainly a famous word in the English-speaking (or –learning) world over and has probably found it’s way into 99.5% of all standardised testing everywhere. But in this case, it works. Just take a look at Michael’s pedigree:
> He is the son of Finnish immigrants who made their way to the equatorial Outback of Australia (think: VERY cold and dark to VERY sunny and EXTREMELY HOT!);
> His studies have focused on bio-chemistry, noting though that after starting work he felt more like a monkey pushing buttons than someone on the cutting edge of the industry!
> Now, of course, his latest work is in design, although he admittedly does not want anything to do with a ‘formal’ education in same;
> He is constantly striving to have his clients examine things in new and uniquely inspiring ways. It seems the more alien of a way of looking at a material he can come up with, the better!
> Also, even though he is working with incredibly creative and talented people, he believes very strongly that, quote, ‘creativity can only take you so far’!
> And finally, he speaks several languages. Not those just defined by the outlines of different countries on a map, but instead those that are needed to understand – and be understood by – designers, corporate budget makers and R&D scientists of all kinds.

When you meet Michael, he exudes energy and a keen interest in learning, as well as a strong ability to communicate and get his ideas across. He readily admits that he is in many ways just setting out on the first steps of what he believes is going to be an amazing journey. As such, we were excited to recently catch up with Michael under the stormy skies of Basel, Switzerland, to find out more about his unique approach to supporting designers and their struggles to make not only ends meet, but make sure their creations turn out doing what they want them to do!

Michael, just jumping right in: can you first explain to the novice what it is an ‘Experimental Design Consultant’ does?
Experimental design is a new way of thinking about design materials. Product designers spend a lot of time researching, identifying and sourcing new materials for their projects. The chosen material is then shaped and formed according to their chosen design. What I do then is look at materials from a different angle. Experimental design takes elements of scientific research to examine - and even modify - materials in an innovative way.

For instance, if you look at wood under a simple light microscope, you can see how the cells inter-connect to build the grain of the wood. Of course, wood is a commonly used design material; but when it’s seen in a different way, you can start to imagine the possibilities of creating new designs for wooden furniture. It’s about taking the material, looking deep, using the images to guide your inspiration for new products that are familiar, yet unfamiliar.

So how are you then looking at wood differently and finding ways to even use it differently or perhaps even modify it?
That’s basically just my way of providing a familiar example to explain my field. And I like this example because I’m very interested in microscopic design. But what I see is that many people typically don’t examine materials down to this level.

Let me put it another way: I take a look at things like this (picks up a candle holder from the table). This is a pretty ordinary, basic object made of a plastic material of some kind. Now let’s look deeper: we scratch a bit of the outside paint away and can see that there’s something underneath the surface that’s white. Do we know what that is, or possibly what it’s purpose could be? Not yet. So let’s look at the overall chemistry and ask ourselves if we could do something to change it’s use or uniqueness.

There may be various analyses we can conduct to learn about this. As part of my consultancy, I look to see what kind of various tests we can conduct in order to learn more about materials, including
HPLC or different types of microscopy. And it’s then at this point – either through a photograph of something that you obviously can’t see with your naked eye or via an analysis that shows what kind of use-able materials might also be present in a material – that you are perhaps encouraged to see things in different ways. My target is that this inspires your creativity and that you perhaps think of then new ways and new chances for using this material. The same is then true as well with wood, that is, whether it’s used for lighting or furniture materials, I love to explore these chances and ask if there may be some way that we can use it differently than in any ‘traditional’ sense.

And like you said, I am also looking at ways of modifying different materials with my clients. For example, I’m working right now with
Beat Karrer, where we’re teaming up together for one project with a company in Germany that specialises in bio-polymers. They’ve been using interesting materials to make different parts for automobiles (sorry, but I can’t get into too much detail owing to secrecy agreements). We’re able then to apply their approach to other areas of design and look at making things in a totally different way. Sure this may be something where the manufacturer says ‘we don’t recommend you doing it or using it this way – but if you insist on trying it, this is how you would or could do it.’

What do you mean by bio-polymers?
These are essentially what are considered to be bio-degradable plastics. They are typically made from by-products of different vegetables or other foodstuffs; for example, we are looking at how you can convert sunflower oil or starch into something that makes current materials unique in terms of their life-cycle (i.e. ability to be recycled, etc.).

What I do then is co-ordinate with such companies’ R&D groups to work out what’s the best way we can get what we want out of a material or process. And in my case, because I’m a bio-chemist, I’m able to understand and view things in a certain way - even though I’m not an expert in everything by any means. But I do know enough about science and methodology to ask the right questions, and to look and explore in the right directions in order to do something different with these materials.

That’s how I contribute. You see, designers are most often using very conventional materials that are affordable and readily available. So the question becomes: can we find the inspiration to use these same building blocks in a completely different way or find a way to modify them? I’m looking with my clients to find ways of designing something that’s really, really fresh. And that’s about differentiating yourself from the market and other designers.

What kind of specific know-how are you bringing to the table – or perhaps better said, the studio – and how does a designer incorporate that?
My training is in biomedical science – not design. I haven’t gone to design school and actually have no interest in going to study design in a ‘formal’ setting. I’m a hands-on person who would rather learn about design by working alongside designers rather than listening to them in a classroom.

I started my career in 1999 in Australia working in medical laboratories analysing blood samples for markers of disease. I continued this work in the UK and then moved to Finland where I worked for a biotechnology company doing gene therapy studies in pigs. After I got sick of the darkness and inhumanly cold temperatures, I moved back to Australia in 2002 and entered the pharmaceutical industry running clinical trials of new drugs used to treat things ranging from facial wrinkles through to bone-marrow cancer.

In 2005, I moved to Basel, Switzerland to work at a large pharmaceutical company where I brought anti-cancer drugs from animal testing through to the first stage of testing in humans. This brings up another key aspect of my ‘tool-box’ if you will: I am used to working with large global, even hulking corporations. For example, I understand the in’s and out’s of the contract process and budgeting cycles and more. As such, I bring a unique skill set to the creative table.

How are you then co-ordinating projects with the designers that hire you as a consultant and these large corporations?
First, if a designer comes to me and tells me what’s he or she is looking for or aiming to achieve, I then conduct research. Owing to my experience and background, I know all about looking into databases, as well as visiting companies, including going to talk to their R&D chemists and more. So I’ll do lots of background and detective work and also a great deal of leg-work as well.

When I visit afterwards various corporations that I think might be able to contribute something, I’ll ask about what kind of materials they have and what they might be able to offer that meets the designer’s wishes. And I’ll arrange as well all the needed agreements, secrecy clauses and more that a designer typically isn’t interested in or experienced at. It’s really this technical liaison side of the business that is so critical, where if you’re not comfortable talking to these kind of people, if you have trouble with their ‘language’ (or vice versa), you can quickly find yourself out of your depth.

Plus, as I said, having big company experience as I do, that really helps (for better or for worse!). A designer might just see the huge Headquarters building with the big front gate and a couple of security guards out front. But I have been in these situations and I know that at the end of the day it’s about the people inside and the needs they have to fulfil as well. You really have to understand how big companies operate – you have to know that if you want to engage them, you have to think about what they are doing and what their goals might be. You have to ask yourself, for example, ‘can I get a budget from them, can we prepare a ‘Business Case’ together to be able to convince those that control the money or design as the case may be to do this’, etc. Both of these aspects of my experience are therefore very useful, including the technical project management side of business as well as the big company experience.

And that’s how I manage my side of the business, that is, what I contribute to my clients’ projects. I mean, looking at working in Zurich with Beat, we do some p
retty crazy stuff in his studio. But a lot of this involves concepts we come up with – and here I’m just being honest – which are probably unachievable as we initially define them. But we work as hard as we can on them anyway, because we know that we can take elements from different projects and combine them into something that is still very new and exciting. None of what we work on is wasted and we do learn so much by simply ‘doing’ things. It’s just simple fact that if you don’t do something, if you don’t try something, you will never get to play with really different ideas.

How did you get interested in design? Or did ‘design’ somehow get interested in you?
I grew up on an isolated sugar cane farm in
northern Australia. We are located at the same latitude as Rio De Janiero – so this gives you an idea about how hot and tropical it is! And my family’s farm is so remote that the nearest shop is a 50 km drive away and even up to today we don’t have mobile phone reception out there!

My parents are actually from Finland and I have always been surrounded and fascinated by all things Scandinavian. When I was 14 and all of my friends were wanting motorbikes and fishing gear for their Christmas presents, the only thing I wanted was an Alvar Aalto vase from the
Finnish glass company Iittala. This sort of shows how different I was even at that young age! It’s my first and most treasured design item. Since I went to an agricultural high school and never had the opportunity to study art, I pursued my studies in science. Before I knew it, I had graduated from the University with a Biomedical Science degree and left my design interests behind as I focused my career on medical research.

Fast forward to 2007: I was living in Basel and heard about the local
Vitra Design Museum. I found out that they ran design workshops during the summer months at a place called Boisbuchet in France. I jumped at the chance to do something creative so I enrolled in my first workshop with Humberto and Fernando Campana. This was an amazing experience! I spent a week with the Campana brothers using plastic bottles, rubber tubing and bamboo to create lamps and chairs. And so I was bitten by the design bug!

In 2008, I returned again to Boisbuchet and attended a
bio-polymer workshop with Beat Karrer. Using simple materials and cooking them over a stove, we created stunning design objects. As you’ve mentioned, I now work part-time as scientific consultant to Beat’s studio, literally running his ‘R&D’ department. I look at conventional materials and apply different scientific techniques to them in order to create new design opportunities and take the Studio in a fresh creative direction. While I’m not permitted to talk about specifics, we are working on a range of projects for international clients. At the moment, these projects range from interior lighting through to architectural facades.

And later this year I’ll return to Boisbuchet to do a 2-week glass blowing workshop lead by the
Corning Museum of Glass from New York. So, my interest in design has always been there. It’s just been dormant for a few years until we rediscovered each other.

It sounds like you’ve already been on quite an adventure!
My overall journey has been very interesting, even if I found along the way that learning about science was a lot more interesting than doing it in terms of a career. On one hand, I think science requires a lot of creativity. You have to imagine very complex things and they’re actually not that much different. However, once I worked in science, I felt a bit like a monkey pushing buttons.
For example, working with analytical chemistry, everything is just so automated these days. You just prepare the samples, put them in and the machine spits out the results. Or when I’m preparing clinical studies, it often involves just going through reams and reams of data, which can be really mind-numbing. So in the end, I really wanted to do something more interesting, and that’s what led me to take these courses in France.

continued in Part 2