akenberg meets Kauppi & Kauppi

It was inevitable that they would meet. Despite two widely contrasting upbringings, designers Johan and Nina Kauppi are united in the search for the pure, restrained design that celebrates the added values that makes a project unique. After several years in New York and Frankfurt am Main, they returned to their native Sweden and established the shared design studio Kauppi & Kauppi in 2016. Since then, this designer duo has completed numerous notable design projects for which they have been rewarded, for instance the top international prize the German Design Award Gold. Kauppis’ next project is definitely something out of the ordinary.

– Freshly revealed news is our collaboration with Icehotel. We are invited to design and build the ceremony hall in the 30th version of the famous destination in Jukkasjärvi. It is an honourable and challenging project and celebration that we are tremendously looking forward to. Besides that, we are working on a solo exhibition opening at Form/Design Center in Malmö in November, and some design projects that includes lighting, furniture and biophilic designs.

When did you know you wanted to be designers?

– We both studied and received our Master of Fine Arts degrees at the Academy of Design and Crafts at the University of Gothenburg in 2006. It was there we also met. However, the interest in art and design started long before the graduation day, when we as young adults realized the importance of being able to express yourself through colour, shape and three-dimensional thinking.

Describe your design method and process!

– In our joint projects, we benefit from our different skills and backgrounds. We love to approach projects in all scales, from large spatial design to small scale tactile objects. The nature of the project varies, it can be purely artistic as well as a problem-solving industrial design approach. In our process we like to pursue a project towards a defined vision, forth filling an identified need. When developing designs our interest in creating collections and product families runs like a thread through our workflow. The inspiration comes from the contrast between nature and the urban, north and south, in the calming tranquillity and the dynamic stream. Our philosophy is identified by a search for a pure and modest design, celebrating added values that makes a project unique and genuine.

Which part of your process is the most important one and why?

– Our design method and process are of an adaptive nature depending on the task, but we always ask us important questions like: What can this design/product contribute to the world? And what justifies the existence of it? The most important thing initially is to have a clear idea and vision. When the project is done, it is equally important to present your project in the best way possible. To make a grand “premiere” and a global launch, so that the project can reach individuals, to whom it is relevant.

The highlight of your career so far?

– Looking in the mirror and gazing at the achievements since our start makes us humble and proud, but it also triggers our urge to look ahead. We love the thought about developing the next project and to enter the next great collaboration and process. Sometimes it will involve an already established partnership, other times it will be the start of something entirely new. Our curiosity and desire to learn new things is what drives us!

Where did you grow up and how was your childhoods?

– Nina is the gardener’s daughter, born in south Sweden surrounded by colours and shapes of nature. Johan grew up in the very north Sweden where the Arctic Circle crosses the border between Sweden and Finland. A landscape with golden midnight sun and frosty winters in Kaamos light. We believe that our two contrasting childhood opposites, with a good 1 600 kilometres of distance and different perspectives, are essential in our creative process.

What does your daily life look like?

– Our days always starts with a cup of black coffee and a walking meeting, together with our co-worker the farmdog Glimma. This is the time when we go through the schedule of the day, status of our projects and what to focus on next. Where these walking meetings start geographically depends on season, ongoing project and design partner.

You are very productive, how/where do you get your energy?

– We love our walking meetings, to explore nature and cities by foot is by far our favourite way to connect to our creativity. We often talk about the necessity of a great dialogue, which pretty much can be summed up – two minds think greater than one. That is the way we love to work, achieving goals through dialog with each other and partners. Communication through sketches, mock-up:s, visions and words.

Which is usually the best moment of the day?

– Any moment!

And the most boring?

– We will quote one of our best friends in New York, who probably quoted someone else: ”Only boring people are bored.” There are very few moments in life when we are truly bored, there is always something to do or to think about.

Travelling is a great way to get inspiration. An unforgettable place you’ve travelled to in the past year?

– New York and Kautokeino – in combination because of the contrasts!

If you didn’t live in Malmö, in what city would you live?

– A city that make our hearts beat a bit stronger, is our former hometown New York. The Manhattan vibrant city pulse combined with a silent home in a nature surrounded village in north Sweden is the best contrasting match we can imagine.

How would you describe you own style of clothing?

– We are both in love with the black clothing cliché. So, the last items of clothing we added to our wardrobe was most definitely something black.

Favourite fashion designer?                     

– Iris van Herpen, for her creativity beyond dimensions.

What is your relationship to Swedish Lapland?

– Everything from sounds, smells, textures and life pace defines a place. In north Lapland it is the calmness, the harsh winter cold and the never-getting-dark midsummer nights that we cherish. Words like simplicity and solitariness comes to mind, but also creativity and freedom. Time to reflect and to create. Characteristics that becomes even stronger defined when comparing them to a fast pace millions of people New York context. That is what we love; contrasts.

And your favourite frame from akenberg?

– Tärendö in the colour Sea crest meadow, and Kallax in Oh, that meadow. We love the balance between the shape, colour and material.