Swedish designer Ola Giertz is making strides in the competitive world of design. Graduating in Furniture Design from Carl Malmsten Furniture Studies in 2010 (Carl Malmsten was an influential Swedish designer who believed in championing traditional Swedish craftsmanship), Ola Giertz has since opened his own successful studio. The studio’s designs are distinguished by a clear focus on clarity, simplicity and practicality. Ola places a firm emphasis on the timeless qualities of design, and his approach incorporates a harmonious blend of materiality, form, experimentation and playfulness. These characteristics are evident in designs such as the nature-inspired ‘Leaf’ stool, the visually appealing and minimal ‘Mr T’ stool, and the idiosyncratic ‘O-table’.
Ola Giertz is proving himself to be a talented and highly competent design mind and innovator. His ‘Frame’ easy chair for Swedish brand Materia won a Red Dot Design Award in 2015. Recently, the ‘Mr T’ stool, also for Materia, won the NYC-DESIGN Award in the category ‘Stools’.
Gessato gets behind the design with Ola Giertz.
Describe yourself using five words.
Creative, thoughtful, inventive, methodical and accurate.
Many of your designs have a playful and experimental edge. What inspires your particular approach?
Nature. In nature I can breathe and feel the fresh air. I often take walks in the forest. In many ways, it is a form of meditation to walk long distances and moreover, it’s a clean source of inspiration. In nature all forms are fantastically exciting to discover: a snowflake’s crystals; a tree’s growth rings; the foliage of a tree crown.
You find yourself in a classic elevator pitch scenario: how do you succinctly explain your design studio’s offer to someone?
My studio is characterised by simplicity and a playful approach. I’m always striving to create timeless products, where design, material and form match in harmonious dimensions, and meet the needs of the user.
When approaching design and product development, how do you incorporate that timeless factor?
My design language is very much based on a feeling of minimalism. I work graphically and often try to scale down and reduce unnecessary elements, until only the basic shape remains. It’s my way of trying to create timeless products that last over a long period of time.
You worked recently with interior architect Roger Duverell on the ‘Mr T’ stool (for Materia) and the ‘Leaf’ stool (for Horreds). What is the added design value you’re aiming to achieve through this partnership?
Roger and I have a wide level of experience—as a design duo, we can offer an exceptional range. Roger’s profession as an interior architect makes it much clearer for us when we sketch and develop new ideas. On account of his ability to see which ideas are best to decorate with, it means that at an early stage we know which of our ideas to develop, and then show to our producers and partners.
You talk about valuing design as a competitive factor for success. What does this mean to you?
We love to work with companies that realise the importance of design. In many ways, design is a competitive tool and it’s our aim to create long-lasting, beautiful products. I believe in design with added value… something more than just another chair—it’s what I’m always striving for. By collaborating with companies that have the same opinion, it means we are stronger. Together we can make the world that little bit more beautiful and sustainable.
What are your thoughts on the shape of Sweden’s design industry?
We are constantly making progress at producing locally. We take advantage of our craftsmanship, but we should also be better at promoting ourselves as ‘Scandinavian design’. This is an important trademark and one in which we should invest a lot more. At the same time, we experience a high level of competition from Denmark, in companies such as Hay and others.
What excites you most about your work?
The design process and the feeling of creating something important, that will make a difference.
As a designer, what accomplishment are you most proud of to date and why?
The fact that I have succeeded in a tough industry and managed to design furniture that affects people by making a difference.
What and/or who influences your creativity?
People inspire me in different ways. It can be an artist who sings a song that affects me, or a person with a passion for something that they have worked their whole life towards. The Danish designer Verner Panton is an idol of mine. I like his timeless design and futuristic shapes. Many of his furniture pieces and products are colourful and graphic—this inspires me a lot.