LUCAS MORTEN IS MOVING SCANDINAVIAN DESIGN BEYOND THE MID-CENTURY AESTHETIC, ONE HAND-CRAFTED PIECE AT A TIME
PHOTOGRAPHER TYRA-STINA WILHELMSSONEDITOR LAIRD BORRELLI-PERSSON
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From first-hand experience I can tell you that not all Scandinavian fashions are minimal. Similarly, not all Nordic interiors are white and filled with mid-century furniture. But even in 2020, the association between the region and this era of design persists. That makes it all the more satisfying to discover young talents who are consciously trying to walk a new path—without disowning their heritage. One of those is Lucas Morten, a rangy almost 25-year-old who like to dress in black (particularly if the label reads Rick Owens), who is creating pieces that fit, he says via email, “in the gray zone between art and functional furniture.” They are also more informed by the avant-garde and brutalism than mid-century design. “I think people can relate more easily to classic designs than new ones,” says the artist of that period’s “stickiness.” “I really think it’s time to move on; though I have a hard time believing that people will—look at the rebirth of Bauhaus that’s due to the 100-year celebration last year,” Morten states. “On the other hand, it’s important that this era is not forgotten.”
Morten is a self-taught maker, though he does continue a family tradition of creativity. “I have a hard time believing that a person wakes up one day with a realization to create something.” he responds when asked when he started designing objects. Morten is specific, however, about the the whys. One reason was practical: Having moved back to Sweden from New York, Morten had to find a new place to live and to furnish it; which turned out to be a challenge considering his budget and aesthetic. “Out of that void and out of the fear of losing Tyra [his girlfriend, Tyra-Stina Wilhelmsson] back to our favorite city, I started building my very own empire that I hoped could compensate the small-city-life for a time.” Never underestimate the tenderness of a Goth.
The pieces he developed have nothing small town about them; rather they are confident, graphic, and in the case of an almost Pi-symbol-shaped table, geometric. A standing lamp, “Böj,” looks like a slab of bent cement: It’s made of fiberglass. Morten combines the organic and the man-made. “I get a lot of satisfaction from getting to know new materials and combinations,” he says.
Others will share in that pleasure when, on February 1, an exhibition of Morten’s reinforced jute cloth “Skal” vases opens at Tableau (a design art, and flower studio), in Copenhagen. These are sculpted in natural hemp, then strengthened with polyester. “I love how Lucas takes a traditional technique and material and works with it in a way so it becomes somewhat more of an art piece,” says Tableau’s Julius Iversen, who is also of the opinion that the artist’s work feels more international than classically Swedish. Or mid-century, for that matter, which gives Morten somewhat of an outsider status. “I’m one of a very few Swedes who dares to provoke the large mass,” he says.