For her graduation, Erika Emerén has researched Modernism in Sweden, which was part of a larger social reform, a utopian dream packed. It was a time of sanitation, division of good and bad, true and false, practical and dysfunctional. The modern time required a new style, one in which unnecessary layering of aesthetic features were no longer welcome. Ornaments were washed away, to be replaced by flatness, of which Ikea furniture testifies on many levels.
In Emerén’s view, we still tend to belief that a flat surface is neutral. That its shape is so minimal it has reached a state of purity. However, when examining these modernist objects closer, it becomes obvious that this is a false assumption. After all, every surface, every skin, every trace of production, incorporates symbolic depth and references to meanings and narratives beyond the object itself. There’s no need to continue to exclude the so-called false, bad and dysfunctional, and continue to replicate the surfaces of modernism infinitely under the pretence of purism and neutrality.
“Ornament Now is a hope to disturb the pure, to transform the heritage of Swedish design, by searching beyond the canon, looking towards everyday crafts: the ones that never entered our cultural institutions, such as baking, knitting, hobby making.”
Spettekaka (spit cake) is a cake consisting of abundant ornamentations, not too tasty, but the cake represents a clear symbol of celebration. Unnecessary layering of aesthetic features piling up to be placed in the middle of the room. This folksy tradition contrasts the homogenous flatness of Swedish design.
The exuberant cake served as an inspiration for Erika Emerén to broaden the possibilities in design. She realized her technically complex project at the EKWC, the European Ceramic WorkCentre in Oisterwijk, where she could use the centre’s excellent facilities and learn from the insights of skilled experts.
Graduation project, 2018