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Featured Seller: Swedish Guy Design

Jun 8, 2012

by SwedishGuyDesign handmade and vintage goods

Tell us a bit about yourself.
As a child, I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. My mother thought that I should either be an actor or a heavy equipment operator. Now that I’m in my late 30s, I’m starting to embody the idea that I might have something to offer the world besides poorly timed jokes and the ability to drive a tractor.

I live in North Berkeley with my teacher/artist girlfriend (check out her shop, Giddyspinster) and our boxer doggie. I love riding the BART to work, and consider an umbrella a portable fort.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
For nine months of the year, I teach second graders to read, write, and add two digit numbers in English and Spanish. During evenings and weekends, you might find me throwing the frisbee around for the doggie, sampling wines in the Santa Lucia Highlands, or paddling our dilapidated canoe around a local waterway.

What would be the title of your memoir?
The Hero-less Journey. In this society, we are constantly bombarded by the story of a boy (rarely a girl) who has an adventure, learns a valuable lesson, and returns to his homeland an enlightened hero. I’ve traveled through many parts of the word hoping for that one epiphany. Fortunately, every lesson I learn only leads to more learning and increasingly complicated and rewarding decision making.

Where does your inspiration come from?
I tend to rely on the form of the material for inspiration. Our backyard general has handfuls of used lumber, wine barrels, and bits of things strewn about. I let these images and forms fester in my head and eventually something comes of it.

What does handmade mean to you?
I like to think that handmade implies some degree of forethought and intention. I’ve produced many things with my hands thoughout my life, but not everything comes out feeling handmade. That feeling of purpose and inspiration carries meaning.

Who has been most influential in your craft?
My grandfather worked in the mines and steel mills of Northern Minnesota. He always had such an incredible way of understanding the potential and nuances of tools and materials.

When did you know you were an artist/maker?
Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, making things was second nature. We were always bailing hay, splitting firewood, or mending fences. For fun, my sisters and I would build forts in the woods.  Carpentry was just an extension of this lifestyle. When I finally went back to school to become a teacher, I found that daydreaming about making things relaxed my brain. It was my girlfriend Rachel who pushed me towards designing things with an artful intention.

If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Antoni Gaudí. He brought together many different crafts to produce singular works.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Before the red barn was torn down, I snatched an old horseshoe that was worn by my grandfather’s draft horses.

How do you get out of your creative ruts?
I try to combine equal parts absinthe with equal parts daydreaming.

Where would you like to be in ten years?
I would like to turn Swedish Guy Design into a giant corporation that pays no taxes. No, really I’m quite happy with what I have now. Perhaps some little tykes running around the house would be the frosting on the cake.

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