New York based Swedish designer and and communication and brand strategist John-Michael Ekeblad has been invited to host a solo show this past summer at Dalslands Konstmuseum called New York på Dalsländska.
Here follows John-Michaels own story about the background to the show.
I live and work in NYC, and have my roots in Dalsland, as my grandfather was a carpenter and built several houses around the region during his lifetime, so for me wood working and constructing things comes natural. So I like to make new things out of materials that is regarded as unusable, may it be building material from Manhattan, a nomadic aerial root fiber from the rainforest or a stranded boat in Brazil.
When I was invited to have a summer solo show at Dalslands Konstmuseum, I decided that the main point of view should be the concept of up-cycling, with the idea to recreate some of the furniture I make in NYC, and specifically use local material from Dalsland, as Dalsland have a long tradition of craft, furniture making and house carpentry.
I did the exhibition project as a workshop format in collaboration with Steneby, a local design and craft school, and set together a group of multi skilled students and local designers that all have a spectra of experience, and let them be inspired by the dna and personality of NYC. Thereof the name “New York på Dalsländska”.
So for the purpose of the workshop and exhibition I was looking for an old traditional house that was either on the verge of collapse or already torn down.
The idea of using an old house is somewhat functional as well as romantic, as it has been a place where people have lived and made memories over many years. So you get a very private almost intimate respect for the material you work with, as it has been very precious to someone else. The functional aspect is that there are usually many materials in the old building structure that can be re purposed once you get beyond the worn out surface.
This specific house was raised 1850 and owned by an old lady, Greta på Berget (Greta-on-the-hill) a very colorful local personality, with lots of funny stories surrounding her. When she passed the children wanted to take down the house in order to build something else. The actual house is a traditional regional Dalslands house, constructed in the same way for the last 300 years, with wood logs and pin joints. All these existing elements I kept to be a part the furniture as it gives them personality and distinction.
The overall approach I have to these materials is that wherever the wood meet skin it is polished and clean, everywhere else I leave it alone and let the raw surface and material character be what tells the story.