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Friday, November 10, 2006

Lotta Jansdotter

: : d*sponge readers, it's been an amazing two weeks here on d*sponge's guestblog, I have had so much fun! Thank you for all your sweet words of encouragment. You have inspired ME and I really hope you have found joy and inspiration in my posts as well!

Although, I'm sad this will be my final post, I couldn't be more excited to introduce the last fabulous surface designer in my series of interviews. In addition to being a very talented, famous designer, she is also Swedish!! A Swede gone American.....meet Lotta Jansdotter!!

Lotta is just about to release a new line of products, and is giving us a sneak peak...some of these products are already available on her website....but some are brand new!

Time for me to go back to my red.house! Thank you everyone!

Can you tell us a little bit more about your company and how it first got started?

I started my company 10 years ago...1996 in a small basement space in my apartment building. The room was very small...but big enough to fit a small home built screening table and a sewing machine into...but that was all that fit! It was crammed in there !!!
Back in 1995 I took all kinds of classes at a community school not really knowing what I was looking for exactly..just took a bunch or art classes really. When I discovered screen printing I knew I had found my medium. I have always been creative and liked working with my hands..but I didnt know how to translate that into a profession- and I KNEW I wasnt a fine arts person.
With screen printing I realized that I could transfer my "doodles" and my motifs onto fabric and make duplicates and sell them...as products.

Growing up in Sweden I was surrounded by textile products: well designed and simple towels, curtains, pillows, pot holders with a contemporary feel ...but there simply wasnt ANYTHING fun. creative or contemporary on the US market at that time....so i figured that i would quit school and start my own company, give it a shot. I put together my first collection in the basement, took it to stores and started selling !!! I worked part time as a designer and in the evenings I waitressed...now I have been supporting myself full time ( and over time) as a designer for 5 years.

What drew you to America in the first place?

ahhh, I came to America to be with a man...not for America itself. Now that man is in my past and I am very grateful for my life here. I have found a lot of support and tapped into the entrpreneural spirit that USA truly do have. I dont think I could have grown and succeeded as a designer in Sweden like I have here in USA ! Sweden is simply too small, and a tad narrow minded: Swedes don't really encourage success too much. ( that is slowly changing as well...luckily) It has been a long journey these past 10 years. It hasn't been until the last 4-5 years that the general gift market in America have started to appreciate and value simple, clean designs with function.

You are a self-taught designer, when was your love/passion for design born, do you think?

hmmmmm..it has always been there..but when I was 3 it wasnt called "design"; it was me drawing and drawing, all the time..coloring and cutting paper..drawing flowers and more flowers..and as I grew older I would decorate letters to my 13 pen pals..make scrap books, decorate furniture and so on ......it is all the same still, I do the same things, except now I can actually make a living at it...it is rather remarkable and I am so happy to be so fortunate to work with what i love to do !!!

Being a Swede and all, I assume nature is an important influence to you, how does nature inspire you in your work?

yes...alot of running around in the mountains, eating mormors( grandmothers) carrots straight from the garden patch..riding hay rides, swimming in the great Baltic ocean, taking the boat out to the archipelago, picking 7 flowers to put under your pillow at midsummer and playing in the fields and in the red barns, walking home in the midnight sun....all of this time in nature have influenced my work..and still does.

Where do you feel most inspired?

really..anywhere..as long as I am removed from my everyday grind I can let my mind go...I stop thinking about the bills and all the have to's..and I take time to stop and notice my surrounding and let myself SEE things= be inspired. TRAVEL is so so great for this.

What is your relationship to Sweden (and Åland) today?

As I am getting older I find myself wanting to go home more often. Lately it has been 1-2 times a year.
I have lived in USA for 15 years now and I have struggled alot through the years with the fact that most of my family and roots are over there...in the old country: feeling a little guilty that I left everybody behind. But my life is so rich and wonderful here.
Now I have the means to go back to Sweden and Aland more often..and that helps alot.
The big dream is to eventually have a summer cabin on Aland ( the island where i was born). I want my children to grow up with many of the wonderful nature experiences I had as a child. I hope to spend 6-8 weeks there every summer ( like a real Scandinavian person) and really relax and charge for the rest of the year..and spend time with people near and dear to me. And with a husband that is an architect that dream just might happen !!!!
I had an exhibition on Aland this past summer and it was such a special event for me..and very sucessfull..it was so great to have the opportunity to do that !

What do you see in the near future for yourself and your company?

I hope to free more time up to create more. One drawback with having your own company is ALL the things you have to manage: all the admin. tasks that take you away from your creative time. I can finally delegate many tasks to my employees..and structure my schedule some more.
I want to focus on more one of a kind pieces...I get alot of requests for that..maybe eventually expand into some clothing?!
oh..and I have 3 books in the works. One sewing book with Chronicle Books that will be launched in a few months, very exciting...and then I have been working with a Japanese publisher on a very cool and creative book....you will be able to buy it on our website come may 2007. The third book is a book about fabric printing...-VERY VERY thrilled about this one...we will keep you posted.

Tack så jättemycket Lotta!! Thank you!


Blogger Lena said...

wonderful interview!

12:09 PM  
Blogger susan said...

what an inspiring interview! it is so great to see into her working area and hear about her background. thank you!!!

4:52 AM  
Anonymous lynne said...

great interview, great photos. i love lotta's work. thank you!

9:35 AM  
Blogger poppy said...

wow - great posts and images!

9:38 AM  
Anonymous shannon said...

i love her style. thanks!

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i own a book that features her nyc apartment (which is great) and then found that i owned some of her paper products-i love her work nice chat!

12:52 AM  

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