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Talking Scandinavian Style Trends with Designer Peter Makela

This month has been great for us at Decoist. Many of you know we packed our bags and left for Stockholm for the Furniture Fair and Design Week. We really loved it. I mean how can you not love it? Inspiration everywhere, great designs and matching colors. It was a feast to our design-hungry eyes. But other than seeing great products and solutions, we also met amazing people — one of them is Peter Makela, a designer with a mission!

We decided to hook up with Peter and know more about his design philosophy and about his vision. We spent some quality time with Peter, so here it is. We ask, he answers! (Editor’s note: Peter is quite a character, prepare to at least smile while reading this interview)

What is the big reason behind your decision to become a designer?

After so many years in advertising I felt that my heart was more in the field of creating my own ideas. And I’ve always had too many. So I just had to go for it. A calling.

Photo: Kristofer Lönnå

Any favorite designs?

I’m a 60s fan. So the classics from that period of time, like Eames Lounge chair, Eero Aarnios Ball chair, Noguchi table, Arne Jacobsens Egg, Henningsens PH5 lamp, Pantone Chair and so on. Oh, the cars! The cloths!! The architecture!!! There’s so much. I think I’m drawn to the futuristic aesthetics from that era. The clean but sometimes crazy solutions. I’m a big fan of contrasts.

How about some of your own?

My own. Tough one. It varies. You get kind of blind when you’ve seen your own things all the time… Two things I haven’t looked at in a while are ‘Angel Chair’ and the pendant ‘Rendezvous’. Two quite advanced designs that haven’t been produced yet. One day hopefully. I think both of them are interesting eye-catchers. They say a lot about me as a designer — that I like telling a story, not just work with the surface.

Love Connection seating by Peter Makela for Green Furniture Sweden

You don’t seem like the ordinary schooled designer! What kicks in your creativity and where do you get your inspiration?

No, I guess not. I never went to the traditional design schools. Which is my advantage and loss. I don’t have the natural ways of getting in contact with producers and the business that the correct schools do. At the same time I have a great passion for what I do and I don’t feel like I’m shaped in some kind of Swedish mold.

I’m a mix of two worlds; Clean Swedish design with a more worldlike expression. Most producers I’ve met get surprised when they hear I’m from Sweden. Especially with my Finnish last name. And, by growing up in Sweden with a Finnish mother and a Italian stepfather I guess it’s not so weird, anymore.

Creativity comes naturally to me. My right brain half is constantly working! Sometimes I feel sorry for my left. Hope it doesn’t feel too left out. Glad my wife has two sharp brain halves. I guess my inspiration comes from everything and nothing! I see solutions in everything there is.

At the same time I don’t like looking at other designers. And I dream a lot of ideas. I can set my brain into creative mode when I go to sleep. And I can wake up with a solution or a new idea. I’ve been interviewed a couple of times about it. Quite interesting how you can set yourself in a creative mode. With some practice. Find the passion and the solutions will come.

Something interesting, that I found out when I got older was that pretty much all my relatives from Finland are very creative in some way. Everything from painting, photography, making own furniture, hats, clothing to cooking! But I’m the first one ever made a career out of it. So I feel the pressure to deliver. Not really, I’m just glad I found what I love to do.

How come Swedes are so great designers? Is it the food, the water, the cold?

Out of those three, definitely the cold! Seriously, In some way that’s not actually not too far away from the truth. Our summer’s quite short and it’s rather dark most of the year. Instead of hanging at the beach enjoying life we stay in and do stuff. When we don’t we party! Of course then we have great opportunity when it comes to education that boost our talents. And another thing I’ve noticed in the past years, thanks to the net – I think we inspire each other a lot. Success leads to success, more or less.

You came to Stockholm for the Furniture Fair and for Design Week. What were the most interesting designs that you got to see?

I rarely get impressed. But a favorite was Blå Station’s Dent chair. It had something appealing in it’s simplicity. And very comfortable. There were a lot of beautiful things at the fair, yes. But not much rocked my world. It’s still a lot about surface. I’m glad we’re thinking more eco now, though. It’s about time! We need more multi-functionality and storytelling too. But I guess that’s my job!

Can you dig any patterns for the Scandinavian design scene? Any trends?

Eco thinking is still trending. Hope it will become a natural way of thinking in the future. At this fair I saw a lot of meeting solutions. Very boxed up designs in form of very tall armchairs, sofas and cubicles. Not very welcoming designs, but quite interesting. Just that everybody had them made it bit mainstream. LED lights are growing and becoming more advanced. And technology is getting more integrated in different designs.

Are people prepared for such changes?

If you talk about eco-design, we need to. We can’t just spit out all kinds of designs made out of what ever to make business. We need to start thinking Good Business. What’s good for us as consumers, our planet and makes our businesses roll. It’s a tough job. But that’s something we have to work on finding solutions for.

Can you “explain” the beauty and the versatility of the Scandinavian design?

The beauty is that it works pretty much everywhere. Almost everyone likes the clean lines of Scandinavian design. You can have the same pieces for decades and just change the surroundings and you got a new interior! Which kind of sums up the versatility.

Sometimes I look at an apartment and I don’t know why I simply love it. Could it be because everything is so well designed and so well organized? Are these core values for the Scandinavian style?

Sounds like it. Sober design in natural materials has a welcoming feel. Same interior in plastic based materials doesn’t have the same feel. Cool but cold. Scandinavians are warmer then you think.

We’ve met while you were the curator for Sweden on Twitter. How did it feel to be your country’s voice for a week?

It was a really enriching and fun assignment! I got a lot of positive feed back, a lot of people from all around the world seemed to like my take on my tweets. I think I showed a different Sweden. Both from a professional point of view as a creative person, but also as a caring father and husband.

It was a lot of fun showing off Sweden during Stockholm Design Week. When there is so much interesting things to share, from so many talented creative people. I loved it. I wouldn’t mind doing that again, somewhere else.

Il Salone in Milano would be really inspiring to give my point of view from.

As a social user your a different soul in such an organized world. How come?

I love interacting. Hearing what people have to say. Since I have my studio at home it’s so easy to do so. I’m almost always online. I even have most contact with my clients through different online channels. Some I’ve never even met! Funny how that is, today. It’s effective. I can concentrate on what I do best, create. Instead of riding around in a car all day long and attend meetings. Even though I love meeting people. I need to be in that mood. I guess I’m a very antisocial social person! Ha ha.

Tiger Lily wallpaper – Olive
Tiger Lily by Peter Makela for Your Wallpaper

A quick response online is the easiest way of getting in contact with me.

By using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog, website actively I show my passion and at the same time market myself. Sure it takes time. But it’s from the heart, so it’s not a burden. Just hope people don’t get sick and tired of me.

This interview is coming to an end. What would you like our readers to know about Peter Makela?

Hmm, is this where I’m supposed to say something smart? I just hope the things I say and do, inspires. I hope my way of thinking and creating is a small contribution for a better world. Hopefully I can do so for the rest of my life.

Don’t be afraid of interacting with me. I’m always up for a online chat, joke or deep discussion about how we can make our world a better place. Together. I love when people from different cultures interact and take baby steps closer to each other. By doing so, we’re slowly getting there, like the cliche says; peace, love and understanding. In a nice, affordable, eco-friendly design of course.

Alex Ion

Alex started Decoist in early 2009, as a passion. With time, things have changed and Alex became more and more obsessed with fancy interiors and contemporary designs. Hence why all his attention today goes to running the magazine -- deciding what gets published, ensuring that our fans on Fa[...]

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