An interview with
Synnöve Mork

In her work she samples surfaces, colors and materials. The samples are used for inspiration. Small bits leading to something bigger. “The whole is what interests me. A common theme is most important. Expression is secondary”, says Synnöve Mork. Here she talks about being a teacher, humor in design and a little reluctantly about what trends are to come in 2018.

Synnöve Mork needs little introduction for the ones of you who’ve had your eyes fixed on the Swedish design world the last 20 years. But a little re-cap is always good. Synnöve Mork works primarily with patterns for textile productions and as exhibition architect for companies, shops, fairs and museums. Her interest in design first took form in the family she grew up in where mom and dad were working in film, advertising and design. Later she went to educate herself at Nyckelviken and Konstfack, where she’d find herself working as a teacher many years later. Elle Decoration has been, among many others, a recurring partner for more than 25 years. Synnöve Mork is what some call the stylist’s stylist. She is also heavy into stripes. According to herself she has probably designed more stripe patterns than anyone else in Sweden, although all of them haven’t been produced. In 2013 she curated an exhibition at The Nordic Museum in Stockholm together with Tom Hedqvist, one of the founders of 10-Gruppen. What the exhibition was about? Stripes of course!

When Design House Stockholm were discussing the artistic direction for the new catalogue and decided on moving towards something darker and rougher it felt natural to involve Synnöve Mork.

“Design House Stockholm has always had a sharp focus regardless of the expression. Södra Teatern, where we shot the catalogue, has a style and character that you can go two ways with: the elegant and clean way or the rougher and darker way. We chose the rougher way and I think that really fits the products.”

“Me and Brendan Austin (the photographer, ed’s note) saw the same things even though we didn’t know each other from before. You have a loosely based idea or a feeling, you voice it, and in the conversation, new ideas take form. I really like that. In the meeting with other people who are open for ideas and impressions you can reach a momentum. But you have to be in the now for that to happen.”

Although it may sound like Synnöve Mork is drawing inspiration from the philosophical field in her work she doesn’t think of herself as a philosophical designer.

“I see the rooms and I know what to do. Architecture inspires me. I work with surfaces, so I sample other surfaces, colors and materials. I’m more emotional than philosophical.”

Shapes and forms that play with each other, drama and visible materials. Those are some of the ingredients that Synnöve Mork likes to cook with.

“The best thing I know is to create the shape of the room, do models and scale them up and down and then let someone else interpret that space. It’s taken many years to let go of that control.”

Being a lecturer at Konstfack taught her to handle criticism. The students were at times very demanding and Synnöve had to formulate the answers they needed.

“When you push your students in what you think is the right direction you have to be able to stand up for your ideas in order to not lose the backbone in your work. The role as a teacher makes you question yourself and that’s not always easy. But then there’s nothing better than seeing talent being born, it gives you so much energy back.”

When talking about being a teacher and when talking about her work the importance of a common theme becomes clear. A common theme and a whole.

“Interior design is actually not that easy. What I mean is; it can be hard to put your finger on what makes a room, interesting, relaxing, exciting and what makes a room dull and lifeless.”

On that subject, what do Synnöve Mork think will make the room in 2018? She laughs when asked what trends are to come but if she has to answer she’s hoping that art, humor and the coming of the individual are going to make their way into interior design.

“In our field of work everybody wants to fit in and it makes people very serious. There’s a built-in anxiety. It doesn’t leave much room for humor. I can see that art and design are nearing each other and that creates room for humor. So hopefully people are getting less anxious. Maybe they feel more secure as individuals and let their expressions show. I want to see more “beautiful” and “ugly” expressions mixed, it creates something interesting in many cases. And by “ugly” I mean unexpected elements, things that stand out a bit. I think in general people are tired of uniformity.”

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