The artist Lotta Kühlhorn could almost be featured under next week’s subject, pattern pioneers, as well… Since her début in the ’80s, she has worked her consistent colourful retro style into the very hearts of the Swedish people and now holds the place as the Queen of graphic design and illustration. Few contemporary designers are so well known to a bigger audience, outside the “inner” circles, as Lotta Kühlhorn. Her bold graphics can be found on almost any kitchen item, the most significant Swedish brands and products and last but not least, on hundreds of book covers for the major publishing houses. She can also add the title author to her résumé since she published her own books over the last few years.
To me, her patterns are the equivalence of all things typically Swedish: drawing from the heritage of Swedish design from the ’50s (see previous posts HERE and HERE) and inspired by predecessors like Marimekko or 10-gruppen she has created a signature style so powerful that it is recognizable anywhere, even when represented in other parts of the world, as Japan where she has a big market.
A subject she constantly gets inspiration from is food and this one is from her book Designing Patterns (2012). She visited her local fish store and got the idea: why not make a pattern from the items and arrange them as in the store shelves? This is very typical Lotta, she sources her inspiration from everyday life – she even made a pattern out of her blood pressure, calorie intake and exercise habit! Another example is her stripe pattern where the stripes derive from a trip she did and symbolize a sunset, a suburb, a highway, a golf court, a mall, and a parking lot repeating itself throughout the fabric… Indeed a new way of making patterns! Some of my favourites are designed for IKEA like this one below – an ingenious interpretation of urban elements in Stockholm.
When the textile industry suddenly started to appeal to big numbers of aspiring surface pattern designers some years ago and books on pattern design and textile craft exploded in the shelves of every book store, I remember wondering who would do the first Swedish book on repeats and pattern design? Well, who would have been more evident than Lotta Kühlhorn with over 30 years of experience from the business and represented in all the different areas of surface design all over the world? But if I was expecting something in line with American or British titles on the subject I quickly had to abandon my preconception when opening the book. This was a completely new take on pattern making and an eye-opener to where your inspiration can be sourced and what subjects are fitting for repeats.
Stylish, funny and unconventional Lotta Kühlhorn has reinvented surface design without losing contact with the Swedish design traditions. Visit her website, shop or agent to see more of her work! Follow on Facebook or Instagram!
All copyrights of the pictures belong to the artist Lotta Kühlhorn when nothing else is stated.