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Self-taught with Youtube, artist Åsa Stenerhag creates ceramics about prominent organic shapes and structures

Beside the designer position at Totême and current artwork projects for Jil Sander, Rörstrand, Filippa K and Tangent GC, the ceramic has absorbed Stenerhag ”in a way she couldn’t ever imagine”.

Words: Johan Magnusson

Right after studies at Beckmans School of Design in Stockholm, Stenerhag started working at Filippa K and stayed for 16 years. Over the years, she’s always worked with her art aside and it has been escalating the last 10 years.

— In late 2015 a decided to leave the company when I felt a strong need and wanted to explore that part of myself full-time, she says, continuing,

— I didn’t expect myself to go back into the fashion business, at least not as quick but after a few months I was approached by Totême, at the time a quite small company, which for me felt attractive. The thought of a small team, where the decision paths are short and the all over energy high, made me curious of trying to combine and split my time between the art and design. I was hesitant at first. I did quit to explore another part of myself. When I go into something I know I do it with all my heart and I know it sort of absorbs me whether I want it or not. It gives but it also takes. But I was too curious. And I felt a connection with the brand. Something in me said yes.

For Stenerhag, the art really inspires her and helps her to be a better designer.

— I have been doing it for more than three years now. I only work with Totême when it comes to clothing but have been doing some collabs with my art aside with Tangent GC and artwork for Jil Sander’s Men’s SS20 collection, to mention a few. I still take care of the Rörstrand/Filippa K collab where I made a small collection of porcelain products years ago.

Tell us about your artworks.

— The ceramic has really absorbed me in a way I couldn’t ever imagine. I have been doing it with intensity for the last year, basically. Self-thought with Youtube as a great support, haha. Prior that I have been working with different media, especially a very very thin paper, cardboard and more. It has always been about structures, shapes and the space between things, what happens in between. So I guess the longing for an even more three-dimensional world wasn’t that far away. I am open to what ever comes in my way and won’t stop myself trying other media.

The most recent project was her exhibition ”Alien Autopsy” together with Massproductions, in the latter’s showroom in Stockholm.

— I know (Co-founder) Magnus from before and he told me about the tables some months ago. It felt exciting. One of the tables is over 4m long. What an opportunity! And the fact that the showroom is a really nice space as well. The name of the exhibition, ”Alien Autopsy”, had an impact and made me go deeper with shapes and surfaces. My work is done very intuitively but frames can really set me on fire.

Where can we find your pieces?

— I do sell upon request. I feel humbled that people appreciate and find my things interesting. Although I have put that on hold lately to be able to concentrate on my work. It took me many years to open up and to let people see my art. I guess it is a way to get connected and grounded in the things you do. To let the intimacy explore itself. But then I realized that what I was doing was some soft of communication and slowly opened up. Scary at first but I learned to handle it. I have mixed feelings when it comes to sales and would like to separate myself from it. I hope I will find a way to deal with it.

Her next project is actually a song, a dream since she was a kid.

— I have played the piano for a long time and sang in different choirs and took singing lessons throughout the school years. I now have a separate keyboard to connect to my computer and lately the Garageband app on my phone works really well. It is a kind of meditation for me. Just for myself, says Stenerhag, continuing,

— It started with the idea of making a cover in a studio, which I had the opportunity to do with Crille (Christian Olsson, Fläskkvartetten among other things). Not only a great person but a brilliant musician. I felt really embarrassed but it was like some sort of therapy for me. I got as a birthday present to make another one. I then thought, why not make my own?! So I did. I had plenty of sketches in the app. Crille helped me in the best way possible realizing this dream. It is a bit embarrassing but who cares. Life is too short. To not open up to what is within you will slowly kill you, she says, adding,

— There is this African proverb that I keep coming back to: If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together. The idea of doing things together, with different energies and constellations, with a result that goes far beyond doing it on your own. Isn’t that something!

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