Between the natural and artificial with Pernilla Ohrstedt


For Spring Summer 2013, our collaborators include artists at the forefront of future-facing disciplines.

Innovative set styling and accessories that transform and sculpt the head were developed for the collection by Swedish-born designer, Pernilla Ohrstedt.

Known for her experimental work across the fields of architecture, art and product design, she's also one half of the duo behind the Coca-Cola Beatbox Pavilion at London Olympic Park. So it's no surprise that she's been shortlisted as Emerging Woman Architect of the Year by Architects Journal and named as a "New Talent" by the Guardian.

Described by Pernilla as creating "a tension between the natural and artificial", the architectural headpieces were given a tick of approval by Wallpaper* who listed them in their 2013 Design Awards.

On her most recent visit to Anti Towers, we caught up with Pernilla for a cultured chat...

Many of your projects are interdisciplinary rather than just architecture. You blend in experimental art, design, music and now fashion. How do you see fashion influencing architecture and vice versa?

I would like architecture to adopt the sense of wit and performance that exists in fashion. In an industry that reinvents itself 4 times a year there is an incredible intensity in the design process that I envy and try to emulate in my own work.

What was the inspiration and process of creating the Anti-P Skin screen for the catwalk show?

The starting point was a butcher’s chainmail - a piece of clothing that both protects and sensually hugs the body.
Instead of stamped metal tiles I used 10,000 Fresnel lenses specially cut and connected in a way to allow the screen to expand and contract. The lenses would pixelate and distort the models bodies as they approached the screen before retracting like a voluptuous skin into an arch for the models to pass under.

Where can we find the screen now?

In my studio – I am working on a new superlight version in paper.

Name some of the influences behind the hair combs you created?
My late grandmother ran her own hair salon in the thirties and forties. She was a genius at finger waving. Vidal Sassoon’s angular power cuts is another huge influence.

The combs are made like traditional Swedish metal combs; machine cut out of tempered polished Aluminum and finished by hand.

In the hair, the combs themselves are either not at all or only partially visible, subtly reshaping the head into a box.

A box made of hair constantly runs the risk of unraveling – hence the name Pandora’s comb.

This collection focuses on opposing concepts of the body, aesthetic surgery and technology. Tell us your thoughts on the relationship between the body and architecture? We understand you've written quite a few essays about it...

We construct ourselves in relation to space every day – style our hair, select our clothing, choreograph our movements.  Aesthetic surgery and soon enough performance enhancing surgery are extremes of that. These are all layers of design each affecting the next like a Russian Doll. Architecture is just one of the outer skins.

What are your favourite pieces from this collection and why?

The Compact Print dress is genius – I love how the shifting tones sculpt the body. The Markings dress with the surgery pattern by Dr Tim Goodacre is also a real gem.

What is your personal opinion on the evolving London skyline?

Richard Roger’s Cheesegrater is coming along very well, super elegant and less Mordor-ish than the Shard. The Walkie-Talkie building looks like something drawn by Sponge Bob Square Pants.

What is your dream project?

I will likely be spending quite some time in New York over the coming year so I am dying to get some exciting projects or collaborations going across the pond.

Which leads us to, what's next for Pernilla?

An exhibition I have designed for the British Council, ‘Atlas of the Unbuilt World’ is just about to open. I am also designing a collection of prefabricated houses for a very interesting Swedish company.  There is also an interesting studio/gallery building on the horizon but can’t part with more information on that at the moment.

Posted by Samantha Lim.

Friday, May 24, 2013