Inspirationist exclusive: Interview with Eero Koivisto, co-founder of Claesson Koivisto Rune

Eero Koivisto, educated at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, in Stockholm, Aalto University School of Art and Design, in Helsinki, and Parsons The New School for Design, in New York, founded Claesson Koivisto Rune with Mårten Claesson and Ola Rune in 1995. He has held the position as artistic leader at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. He is also a lecturer in the field of architecture and design.

The Swedish design partnership Claesson Koivisto Rune was founded in 1995 as an architectural office but is, in the classic Scandinavian way multi-disciplinary, meaning they practise both architecture and design. On the list of completed architectural projects are the recently opened Sfera Building Culture House in Kyoto, the Swedish Ambassador’s residence in Berlin, Ingegerd Råman House and Studio, Kjell A Nordström Residence, Sony Music Headquarters Stockholm, One Happy Cloud Restaurant, Gucci Stockholm, Louis Vuitton Stockholm, Scandinavian Airlines Euroshop, Asplund Shop. Current projects include several private houses in Sweden and three hotels in Norway. Furniture designs by Mårten Claesson, Eero Koivisto and Ola Rune are produced by companies such as Arflex, Artifort, Asplund, Boffi, Capdell, Cappellini, Casamania, David design, Dux, Fontana Arte, Kasthall, Living Divani, Muuto, Nikari, Offecct, Paola Lenti, Smaller Objects, Studio TK, Tacchini, Wästberg, among others.

For the 2017 edition of Sleep – The Hotel Design Event, on November 22nd, Mr. Koivisto will hold a keynote presentation revealing how the Swedish partnership balances architecture and design to ‘manipulate space’ with abstracted and honest Scandinavian beauty. We caught up with him prior to the event to get a glimpse of what his keynote will cover and a bit more about how the creative process at Claesson Koivisto Rune works.

Started playing music, got bored with that, started studying graphic design and worked with it. Got bored with that, found architecture and still haven’t got bored.

INSPIRATIONIST: Where are you from and where do you live now?

Eero Koivisto: I’m born in Sweden by Finnish parents and live in Stockholm, where I work with my partners Mårten Claesson and Ola Rune at Claesson Koivisto Rune Architects.

I: What’s your background?

E.K.: Started playing music, got bored with that, started studying graphic design and worked with it. Got bored with that, found architecture and still haven’t got bored.

© Åke E:son Lindman

I: How did you fall in love with architecture and why?

E.K.: I actually wanted to work with stage design for theatre and dance. By accident I found some books about Luis Barragán and Oscar Niemeyer and after that it was pretty clear.

© Åke E:son Lindman

By accident I found some books about Luis Barragán and Oscar Niemeyer and after that it was pretty clear.

I: Claesson Koivisto Rune was founded as an architectural office, how did the shift towards design happen?

E.K.: We needed a certain typology of a lounge chair for a project we were doing, but failed to find one that fit our description (on the market at that time) We therefore decided to design it ourselves. We had briefly met David Carlson (who owned David design) and since we thought that he was such a nice guy, we just rang him up, and asked if he could manufacture the 100+ chairs we needed for the project. He made them, and asked us if he could put the chair in the David design collection and show it at the next Stockholm Furniture Fair. We said yes, and the chair – which we named ¨Bowie¨ – got published in maybe 50 magazines in the following months, and the rest is as they say, – history. Today we have worked with more than a hundred manufacturers all over the world. However, architecture is still our main work.

© Åke E:son Lindman

We try not to look at other hotels, but instead sort of design our dream hotel every single time.

I: How do you approach hotel design in particular? What are the important aspects to focus on when working on such a project?

E.K.: As all three of us travel a lot, and therefore stay at quality hotels maybe once a week all year round, we are therefore quite picky when it comes to hospitality design. In our opinion it’s all about the atmosphere. The hard thing is to achieve it! Lots and lots of hard work. We try not to look at other hotels, but instead sort of design our dream hotel every single time. Of course given the given budget, target group, location, etc.

© Åke E:son Lindman

I: Where do you spend most of your time, and what does a typical day for you entail?

E.K.: At work. Either at the studio or traveling. To be honest I’m almost always working. As I’m working with my wife, we tend to discuss architecture all the time. If we have time off, we try to travel somewhere where there is an interesting building to see, or an interesting art or architecture exhibition to see. A typical day: Wake up. Have breakfast and read the morning paper. Off to work. Meetings. Lunch – usually at the studio or with clients – and back to more meetings. Work late. Dinner somewhere. At home if possible. Work a little more while listening to music. By then I’m usually dead tired, so off to bed. Next day, repeat. Maybe not so exciting, but I love it!

© Åke E:son Lindman

I: What is your favourite part of your job?

E.K.: The creative part. When an idea takes form. It’s still a wonderful rush of a feeling!

I: Can you describe an evolution in your work from when you began until today?

E.K.: I believe that we are more mature these days. We know what we like and try to follow that path. We try not to follow current trends. We have also – more or less – stopped caring about what other people think about our work. As long as we are satisfied with it, we are happy.

© Åke E:son Lindman

I: What can we expect from your upcoming Sleep 2017 keynote: Space Manipulation? What  is precisely space manipulation?

E.K.: To look at a space and add elements that makes people feel good there. They doesn’t really need to know – or understand – what we have done, but they should somehow feel it. And like it. Again; to create a certain atmosphere by manipulating space in certain ways. I will talk about how we do this in our studio, and show examples of it.

I: If you had to choose one single architect or designer who has provided a source of inspiration for you personally – who would it be and why?

E.K.: Luis Barragan. Maybe it’s my choice because his work had a profound reason for me to go into this profession. I think he was very, very good with space. But that said, there are many good architects that I like, both historical and contemporary ones.

© Åke E:son Lindman

I: Which is your favourite building and/or design piece?

E.K.: Almost impossible to answer… The Grundtvigs church just outside Copenhagen (by Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint) is maybe the most beautiful space I’ve ever been into. The ¨Wooden Chair¨by Marc Newson is one of my all-time furniture classics. Among countless others.

I: Which of your designs is your personal favourite and why?

E.K.: I still think that the ¨Brasilia” table is one of our best designs. Simple in appearance but intricate in construction and composition. It’s a little like asking somebody which of their kids is their favourite one? Impossible to answer. You kind of love them all…

© Åke E:son Lindman

I: How do you unwind?

E.K.: By listening to music. Or playing it with friends, which unfortunately isn’t too often, regarding my work schedule.

I: What kind of music are you listening to at the moment?

E.K.: A lot of jazz right now. But also other music. I’m writing this listening to the new Robert Plant album. This morning I was listening to Herbie Hancock while having breakfast. To be honest I get easily bored if the music is too simplistic. There is so much good music. I have maybe 7000 records, so there’s a lot to listen to…

© Åke E:son Lindman

I: What is your favourite colour?

E.K.: Right now; Dark blue. Tomorrow it might be another answer to the question though.

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