M&T: Tell us about your process of making. Are any two objects ever the same?
JS: They can be to a degree, but I love to give them a slight difference. For example, when I make butter knives in batches of 20 or 30, I use a paper template to make each outline. But when I shave them down, they always come out slightly different because of small variations in the material. I have to make a decision on each one – is this going to taper a little more here or there? I can’t produce exactly the same thing every time – although it is possible do that working by hand, but what’s the point? My aim is to be in the designing process all the time. At a certain point you can say that it’s good, it’s done, there’s nothing more to do. You get feedback from the objects, “Thank you, I’m happy now. Sell me because I am finished.”
On the one hand, what I’m doing is mass production, and on the other, each is a unique object. Production is about repetition, and after awhile you stop thinking about the techniques, knife grips, and what you’re doing, and you just do it. You get fast and begin to work quickly, and you can focus on design and function, adapting and changing as you go in response to the material.
I make a lot of different objects, from butter knives to big commissions for communities or airports, and materials are always very important. The fun part of hunting for materials is reading the trees, because every tree is different and you can’t always tell at first glance what’s going on. You have to touch it a little and look, and all of a sudden you can see the spoon – the tree talks back to you. It’s a kind of interaction with the tree that helps me to find a special form in there. When I’m out spoon hunting I see curves, and filter out everything else. It’s like searching the forest for mushrooms – you start to ignore the surroundings and only see the mushrooms.
–Jögge Sundqvist, excerpt from “The Good Life: Discussing Slöjd with Jögge Sundqvist,” in Issue Six