Alexandra Nilasdotter and Liu Chien-Kuang, the two founders of Normal Object Factory
Stockholm based Normal Object Factory is a design and craftsmanship concept with focus on high quality craft inspired by Swedish and Taiwanese design and craft traditions. Through traditional techniques Normal Object Factory creates contemporary functional objects that meet the needs of the modern human.
Founder of NABOshop, Christina Thaisen, interviewed these two young makers about what inspires them, their working process, and what Taiwanese and Swedish design do or do not have in common.
Let's get to know Normal Object Factory, shall we?
So, tell us a bit about yourself
I'm Alexandra Nilasdotter, a 26-year-old Swedish born ceramicist and designer. I'm educated from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and from Formakademin in Sweden.
And I'm Liu Chien-Kuang. I'm born 1988 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I've worked as an glass maker and designer for 6 years now. I'm educated from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and from The National Taiwan University of Education, Art and Design in Taiwan. I'm currently studying my master's degree at Kostfack in Stockholm (Sweden).
PIN - a self-watering tool by Normal Object Factory
Alexandra Nilasdotter and Liu Chien-Kuang met at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2014, but it wasn't until early 2017 they started developing the first product, the PIN self-watering tool. Since then they've added more products to the collection combining the Swedish and the Taiwanese craft traditions.
What led you to start Normal Object Factory?
It was quite obvious for us to start working together. We share similar visions about crafts and design; both of us was making highly functional objects and tried to keep the high quality of the craft. We are both very disciplined and work hard for good results and we value traditional craft techniques. Last but not least we both wanted to make everyday objects for the modern human that doesn't look too "crafty".
PIN - a self-watering tool by Normal Object Factory
What is Normal Object Factory about?
Well, we want to question things: what is normal, what is design, what is craft and art? Our vision is to make normal objects that help you with your everyday life but that doesn't necessarily come across as being normal. Like the PIN self-watering tool for instance.
But then again, is PIN really a normal object? Is a self-watering tool more normal than a drinking glass? We really like to question the term normal and it's a funny word when you play with it. We hope the MOONBOX, the menstrual cup storage, will be a normal object soon.
We decided to call all our products for objects. We didn't want to decide whether it's functional or sculptural - it's simply just an object.
We wanted to include the word "factory" in our name because it's a word we really like. The idea behind a factory and the function of it is really interesting. Back in the old days the factory workers were real craftsmen and the quality was high. Today the word "factory" might have other associations like mass-produce and items of lower quality. Can craft really be produced in a factory? That's just another thought we like to play with.
PIN and SPEAKER by Normal Object Factory
MOONBOX by Normal Object Factory
What do Swedish and Taiwanese craft tradition have in common?
Sweden has a strong glass history with roots in Småland, producing both functional craft and art and Taiwan has a strong porcelain history and is still today producing high quality craft.
The funny thing is that the Swedes are working with porcelain in a way that has a strong connection to the east asian history and the Taiwanese are making glass that has a strong connection to Småland in Sweden.
And then here we meet to create something new. It's hard to say what happens when you bring these two traditions together but we like to think it's some kind of pure minimalism.
SPEAKER by Normal Object Factory
How do you bring your ideas to life?
If often starts with us seeing a product we would like to change to the better or things we miss in our daily life. When we start sketching we talk a lot about how we can make it as clean as possible and form always follows function.
We do sketching in the studio, both in hand and 3D on the computer, we do technical drawings and material sketching. We do everything we can to try to understand the product before we make it; it starts with an idea about a function, then we try to find the best material for it, and then figure out how we can make it. It's important that the material make sense for the object and the function.
We really want to make traditional craftsmanship part of the future. We want to make products that are a child of our time, like the SPEAKER for smartphones made without glue and screws which makes it easy to take apart and easy to bring with you: a functional object, a design product, all handcrafted, and yet just a normal object.
Thank you so much for the interview Normal Object Factory and for letting NABOshop use your photos in this blog post. We look forward to following your journey in the future.
If you want to know more about Normal Object Factory you can have a look at their website www.normalobjectfactory.com or on their Instagram account here. In case you're in Stockholm on the 6th-10th February 2018 do check out their stall at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair.
Photo credit: Normal Object Factory
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