Meet Akenberg’s Creative Director Design
From fashion to furniture – Akenberg’s Creative Director Design AnnKathrin Lundqvist is now applying her distinct aesthetic to our array of sunglasses and accessories.
With a background at some of the world’s most renowned brands, and with more than 25 years’ experience from working within design in areas spanning from fashion to interior, AnnKathrin is the creative mind behind all that is Akenberg. Growing up in the small village Bälinge in the north of Sweden, she got interested in design at an early age. At 19 she moved to California, USA, to study at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in San Francisco, and since 1993 she worked as a designer with all parts of the creative processes.
As design more and more becomes an important – if not the most important – aspect when it comes to catching customers’ attention, it is always given priority at Akenberg, AnnKathrin explains.
– Working as a designer is about constantly challenging the existing, questioning why, and creating something brand new that expands our horizons. As a designer you also have a responsibility to make sure that your designs are environmentally friendly. New thinking is what drives the design process forward. Change and development is really the only thing that is constant, and through our design we want to explore how we form our opinions, our relationships and ourselves when change is the only constant in life.
What inspires you as a designer?
– The rugged Nordic nature is an infinite source of inspiration. I am also inspired by people I meet and places I come across, no matter if it is in the forest, on a mountain top, by the water or in the city. The quiet area of Luleå where I have my design studio, offers space and allows us to be creative. The clean air and the magnificent nature is great for new ideas and design elements, it can be how the wind has formed a pattern in the snow on the ground, or how the moss grows on an old log. In this Nordic region I also find lots of art, craftsmanship and history that is superb for inspiration and knowledge.
How and where does your design process start?
– Designing a new collection is a step-by-step process. It always starts with a need. At Akenberg we do not want to design unnecessary objects. Each designed product must have a given place, a function and a purpose and stand out from the mainstream. Therefore, framing questions about its justification of existence is an important part throughout the process – its why. As mentioned, the nature is a great source of inspiration, so daily walks in the arctic landscape give me plenty of ideas that then are processed and moulded over and over again. Also, the material must be utilized to its full potential to ensure minimum waste. Working in a sophisticated design software combined with a 3D program, allows me to experiment during the design process, and to strengthen product visualization. Raw materials are limited on earth and truly something that we borrow from Mother Nature, so one has to make sure that the product is designed to last for a very long time – and that it is unique and eco-friendly. Uniqueness, durability and sustainability is my constant strive.
Can beautifully designed products also be highly functional?
– Definitely! If you take eyewear, for example, they have an absolute important function to protect your eyes and aid your eyesight. What’s more, they are also great accessories making the individual who wears them look unique and enhance his or her personality. A pair of spectacles, sunglasses or optical lenses is a very interesting product because of its relative magnitude and the huge impact it has on the person wearing them. The proportions are extremely interesting; although small in size, eyewear communicate with boldness. Also, because eyewear has an important function, being placed in your face, it is something that you both see and see through. And while clothes only showcase two-dimensionally, frames offer a three-dimensional design. Together they become a unity, allowing the bearer to fully explore and present their style and character.
How would you describe you own style?
– Minimalistic mixed with functionality. You could call it Scandinavian design with a twist. I love asymmetry, when unexpected cuts and shapes create that perfect imbalance. Although my wardrobe is predominantly black, you will also find colours like green, blue, brown, burgundy and rust, and also paler shades. To make an all-black outfit more interesting I combine different kinds of material and structures. But what really makes a look stand out are accessories. Having worked in the industry for so many years, my wardrobe is filled with hats, bags, shoes and accessories. Some great finds from the 80s and 90s that I combine with vintage pieces and clothes that I’ve designed for myself. I like high-quality clothes and timeless design since I want products to have a long life cycle. I plan my purchases carefully to make sure that I can combine with what I already have in my closet. As for style icons, I am a fan of Jil Sander, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and Stella McCartney. They are all very different from each other, but what unites them is their eye and knowledge for construction and fit.