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Front Design: Everyday Magic

Jul 17, 2021

Front Design is known for creating playful, avant-garde objects. Shifting between research-driven and experimental projects, the eponymous Swedish design studio embraces tactile and surprising elements to lend their designs a sense of magic.

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Composed of Anna Lindgren and Sofia Lagerkvist, Front Design is known for creating playful, avant-garde objects. Shifting between research-driven and experimental projects, the eponymous Swedish design studio embraces tactile and surprising elements to lend their designs a sense of magic. Their recent project, Seven Stories About Mirrors, follows the development of mirrors throughout history. It draws on traditional techniques and a variety of materials, and proposes a new set of mirror objects conceived from intertwined cultural and historical references. TLmag speaks with the designers about the process behind Seven Stories About Mirrors, the magic in everyday objects, and seeking the unexpected.

TLmag: How does your collaboration work in Front Design?

Front Design (FD): We always work together in the concept development and realisation of all our projects, building on top of each other’s ideas. We’ve found a really good way of collaborating in the creative process together, starting with discussions where we find words to define what our project is about. For us, this is a very inspiring way of working, and it’s also much more fun to work in a group than on your own. You can share the experience, celebrate together when something goes well, and have support if something is going less well. It is a privilege to have a business together with your best friend.

TLmag: With such a well-established practice, how do you maintain your sense of originality in your designs? What do you look to for inspiration?

FD: It is important to us to constantly develop our understanding of the world around us and to find new areas of inspiration. In the studio, we always have self-initiated projects, research projects, and experiments where the inspiration is coming from an unexpected angle and approach to design. For these projects, our starting point is to try to make something that no one has made before. Sometimes that is possible, like making a lamp that blows soap bubbles; or a digital tool for drawing digital furniture in the air, giving pieces of furniture their form from a landscape. This is a very important part of our work.

We also design projects in collaboration with brands such as Vitra, Moroso, Moooi, Kvadrat, Thonet GTV, and Tom Dixon. In the process of these collaborations we think a big part of the inspiration is in the conversation with these companies. Every collaboration is different. Research and curiosity are two of our most important tools in this process.

TLmag: Could you tell me a bit about your shared fascination with magic, and how this feeds into the objects you create?

FD: We are fascinated by how magicians work, how they use everyday objects that everyone can recognise, and how they play with the expectations of an object. We are hoping to make people look at ordinary objects in a different way.

TLmag: In the Seven Stories About Mirrors project, you have (re)designed the same object through different historical lenses and a variety of techniques. What did this process look like?

FD: We wanted to follow one typology of objects and see how it changes throughout history, and how an object can transform its function, materiality, value, and status over time. The mirror has been transformed from a rare and very exclusive object – in the 15th century, the cost of one Venetian mirror was comparable to the cost of a naval ship – to become a constant presence in our daily life. It has been a fascinating journey to learn what impact mirrors have had on society and culture. They have been used as tools of divination, as well as artistic and technical achievements, like the telescope and microscope, which have given people the opportunity to see beyond what can be seen with just the naked eye.

TLmag: You also engaged in various collaborations with traditional glass craftspeople to create these objects. How was this experience?

FD: We were particularly interested to find craftspeople who work with knowledge that has been handed down from generation to generation. We found companies that have been in the same family for almost 700 years. They work with incredible skill and expertise, which unfortunately risks being lost with the advancement of industry and the movement of production to other places in the world. Collaborating with these craftsmen and gaining more insight into their techniques has been very fascinating. We have been able to merge very old techniques with new ones to develop something unique, and this is a technique that we are very interested in continuing to work with for future projects.

TLmag: Humour and surprise also seem to play a role in your practice. How do you approach design in general?

FD: We always start every project as something new. We try to never fall into having a “style”. We are happy if we are able to add an element of something unexpected to a project, and we hope to make people curious about an object so they want to explore it further.

Seven Stories About Mirrors is currently on view at Galerie Kreo, Paris, until July 24.

All images courtesy of Front Design.

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'Seven Stories About Mirrors' Installation view, Galerie Kreo. ©Alexandra de Cossette
'Seven Stories About Mirrors' Installation view, Galerie Kreo. ©Alexandra de Cossette
'Seven Stories About Mirrors' Installation view, Galerie Kreo. ©Alexandra de Cossette
Front, Water Reflection Side Table. ©Alexandra de Cossette
Front, The Secret Mirror. ©Alexandra de Cossette
Front, Reflection Vase. ©Alexandra de Cossette
Front, Obsidian Mirror. ©Alexandra de Cossette
Front, Cut Mirror Vase. ©Alexandra de Cossette
Front, Cut Mirror Vase. ©Alexandra de Cossette
Front, Convex Mirror Vase, single. ©Alexandra de Cossette
Front, Convex Mirror Vase, multiple. ©Alexandra de Cossette
Front, Convex Mirror Vase. ©Alexandra de Cossette
Front, Bronze Mirror. ©Alexandra de Cossette
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