Theodora Alfredsdottir is an upcoming Icelandic designer that has received considerable attention for her latest work. Theodora was nominated as designer of the year at the Formex Nova Design Award in Sweden in 2019 and is teaching at London Metropolitan University. She has designed two lamps for FÓLK. Here she gives her feedback on a few questions we asked her.
What do you focus on in your design?
In a way you could say that I focus on storytelling but not in the most literal sense; My work focuses on the process of making and finding ways of illustrating that process in the final object. The object often acts as documentation of its manufacturing process – a record of what went on between the machine, tools, craftsman and material, a factual narrative which I think is fascinating.
Where do you get your inspiration?
It’s a mix of the everyday life – details in the environment around me; exhibitions I go to, what I read, watch and listen to, as well as previous projects I’ve worked on and the research I’ve done for them often open up new avenues. I feel like inspiration comes to me in waves. Sometimes I am very receptive to everything that’s going on around me and try and make notes and write or draw what comes to mind. But, then there can be weeks where I am not so receptive – and I don’t feel the need to capture and respond to my immediate environment – it’s during this time I try and use and reflect on whatever I had scribbled down / drawn inspiration from in the previous inspirational wave.
What do you think is the biggest challenge in designing new products?
Each project comes with its own set of challenges. For me it really depends on the starting point, and if there is an expected final outcome or not. In the collaboration with FÓLK the expected outcome was a lamp. Many of my projects talk about the process of making in one way or another and that applies to the lamps for FÓLK too – where materials and fabrication techniques play a big role in the creative process. The biggest challenge in this kind of project for me is to justify why we would be bringing a new object into a world overflowing with objects. There will always be a demand for new “things”, for me the key lies in the materials, production methods and using the object to tell a story. By keeping production sustainable and producing an object of good quality we can hopefully make an object that will stay with the consumer for, and last a lifetime.
Are you inspired by any particular environment in your design?
No I can’t say I am, but an environment can start feeding into a new project in a way that it didn’t on previous projects, if that makes sense. If I am thinking about a certain process, finish, object – whatever it may be – I start to notice relevant details everywhere. There’s a fairly busy market on the street leading to my studio that I walk through each morning, but depending on the project I’m currently working on I notice different things there; colours, texture, shapes, patterns, and how items and objects are put together, constructed, arranged and so on. My mindset each and every time therefore subconsciously informs the inspiration I get from the environment.
What has the process working with FÓLK give you? Any new experiences, learning or insights?
Getting a chance to develop a product for FÓLK has been a refreshing experience in many ways. The company is the first of its kind in Iceland to my best knowledge, and is a breath of fresh air to the scene. We maintained an open dialogue throughout the process to make sure we were all happy with where the project was going. I normally work with local manufacturers, where I have an easy way of following the production from a-z, and drop in to see how things are going, so having everything produced in a different country was definitely a new experience. However, I got to be involved with every step of the process, so I learned a lot about a larger scale production.
I think the collaboration was very successful, not only in terms of final outcome but in terms of our communication and initial ideas and concepts when we started working together. Our ethos and ideology lined up nicely so really our biggest headache was to match colours from one colour system to another – RAL over to Pantone! I don’t think you could ask for a better partner than FÓLK