meeting gustaf westman — inside the swedish designer's bubbly, curvy, and playful world

meeting gustaf westman — inside the swedish designer's bubbly, curvy, and playful world

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designboom meets gustaf westman at stockholm design week

 

A fresh wave of new talent has swept through this year’s Stockholm Design Week, including the distinctive work of Stockholm-based designer Gustaf Westman, who certainly brings something new to the Scandinavian design scene. Drawing attention from celebrities like Tyler the Creator and Olivia Rodrigo, his bubbly and playful pieces challenge the conventional aesthetics of sleek and muted-colored furniture. Be it a table, chair, lamp, or room divider, Westman’s pieces burst with color, curves, and a playful vibe that catches your attention from across the room. ‘I usually describe my design as very easy to understand; it’s very few elements that create the object, and it’s always built upon an idea,’ he shares with designboom. Established in 2020, Gustaf Westman’s studio focuses on made-to-order furniture, custom design pieces, ceramics, and glassware. Each made-to-order piece is crafted with selected Swedish woodworkers to support a local and sustainable production process.

meeting gustaf westman — inside the swedish designer's bubbly, curvy, and playful world
image © Julia Viklund | all courtesy Grand Relations

 

 

exploring unorthodox materials and quirky patterns

 

A trained architect from the Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Westman likes to think of his objects as small buildings. He transitioned from architecture to interiors to objects, keeping everything linked by a shared theme. One of his signature pieces, the celebrated Curvy Mirror, is often compared to the works of Jean Royère and Ettore Sottsass. Following the success of the Curvy Mirror, Westman has expanded his repertoire to six product categories, ranging from tableware to larger furniture. However, the designer remains committed to maintaining a small-scale operation with a solid foundation. Drawing inspiration from Memphis Group in the 1980s, which was reacting to the strictness of modernism, he continues the legacy by using unorthodox materials and quirky patterns. Read designboom’s full interview with Gustaf Westman during our visit to Stockholm Design Week 2024.  

meeting gustaf westman — inside the swedish designer's bubbly, curvy, and playful world
image © Julia Viklund

 

 

interview with gustaf westman

 

designboom (DB): Talk to us about your journey from architect to designer. What inspired the switch?

Gustaf Westman (GW): So, I practiced as an architect for a year, but I’ve always been interested in design. I kind of chose architecture to be able to scale down because it’s harder to study furniture design and then become an architect. Also, to be an excellent architect, you need to love every aspect: the building techniques, the environmental thinking, etc. However, I realized that I was more interested in the shapes, the colors, the object itself, and how to create it. I think I’m guided by a feeling that is hard to channel through architecture.

 

 

DB: Building on that, how would you describe your style? 

 

GW: I usually describe my design as very easy to understand; it’s very few elements that create the object and it’s always built upon an idea. It’s sort of very scaled down. 

meeting gustaf westman — inside the swedish designer's bubbly, curvy, and playful world
Gustaf Westman’s studio was established in 2020

 

 

DB: What would you say is the most challenging piece you’ve created so far, and what did you learn in the process? 

 

GW: We made a lounge chair using upholstery, which was probably the hardest to manufacture and produce prototypes for. In this small team that we are, creating a quality piece of furniture that is nice and comfortable to sit on is quite challenging. We also wanted to do produce it in Sweden, which had its own difficulties. Also, it was the very first time that we took on something that is very hard to make when it comes to the function. Tables, for example, are easier because you only need a surface and a height.

 

 

DB: Your designs incorporate plenty of curvatures and undulating patterns. What inspires this aesthetic? 

 

GW: I don’t like the endings of stuff (laughs). I like how, with curvatures, the object kind of gives the impression of ‘continuing’. It feels like it’s whole and enveloping like it’s going on and on, like a wave. 

meeting gustaf westman — inside the swedish designer's bubbly, curvy, and playful world
Westman’s pieces burst with color, curves, and a playful vibe

 

 

DB: Walk us through your design palette. Do you have any preferred materials? 

 

GW: My favorite material to work with is wood and I collaborate very closely with Swedish woodworkers in the process. I also like the fact that you can create the feeling of a certain texture using different materials. We have the ceramics, wood, metal, and now the glassware that all share the same glossiness, smoothness, and childish colors. But this is all still pretty new to me, and I’m still in the learning process; I’m trying to find more sustainable ways in terms of material sourcing.

meeting gustaf westman — inside the swedish designer's bubbly, curvy, and playful world
ceramic cups and plates

 

 

DB: Speaking of the Swedish woodworkers and your support for local makers, what are you thoughts on the local design and crafts scene? Do you see them evolving in any particular way? 

 

GW: There are many interesting local heritage brand but I think it’s hard to share my thoughts on the matter right now. When it comes to inspiration, I don’t really look at other furniture brands. I try to be inspired by the things that I truly love like fashion, of course the arts, and eveything related to design and architecture history.

 

 

DB: Any dream collaboration or project that you’d like to take on? 

 

GW: Of course! I’ve started working on more collaborations, and it would be good to keep building on that. But I guess, as a dream project, it would be fun to work with a big fashion brand that I admire. Scenographies would definitely be a possible one.

 

gustaf-westman-interview-designboom-full

image © Julia Viklund

meeting gustaf westman — inside the swedish designer's bubbly, curvy, and playful world
image © Julia Viklund

meeting gustaf westman — inside the swedish designer's bubbly, curvy, and playful world
Gustaf Westman at work

gustaf-westman-interview-designboom-full-2

image © Julia Viklund

meeting gustaf westman — inside the swedish designer's bubbly, curvy, and playful world
image © Julia Viklund

meeting gustaf westman — inside the swedish designer's bubbly, curvy, and playful world
the Swedish designer creates objects that are easy to understand

gustaf-westman-interview-designboom-full-3

image © Julia Viklund

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