Passion for shaping
sculptures out of steel mesh
It has been twenty years since Swedish designer and artist, Johanna Forsberg first discovered her passion for shaping striking sculptures out of steel mesh with her bare hands.
Based in Grundsundavallen a small village in Northern Sweden, yet with a truly international outlook, Johanna’s studio is home to her many projects. It was here where we recently caught up with her to find out more about Heat, the pendant lamp she has designed for Northern.
‘The shade shimmers beautifully as the light shines through it, and then when the power is off, the whole thing appears to hover tranquilly above the room.’
Can you start by telling us more about Heat, what was the inspiration behind your design?
I think Heat is a mix of two passions really. My background as a mesh artist and the long search for the perfect lighting fixture.
I have always been drawn to contrasts, and in my head, I pictured something translucent and fragile, strong yet durable. All with a classic sense of style that would stand the test of time.
Creatively combining these two ideas, they merged to form a fiery cloud of metal mesh, something in between an art piece and a pendant lamp.
How did you choose the materials used in the final design and how is Heat made?
During the design process I experimented with many different materials, but the gleaming brass and stainless steel we finally selected illuminates in the most spectacular way. The shade shimmers beautifully as the light shines through it, and then when the power is off, the whole thing appears to hover tranquilly above the room.
Every Heat lamp however is created with a wider social agenda in mind. To manufacture the shades, I teamed up with a local development agency to train asylum seekers and long-term unemployed migrants. Right now, we have two amazingly skilled women from Myanmar, who speak an international language of handcraft.
The shades are made up of a series of circles which are sewed together on a machine. Then, using a pair of pliers to highlight certain details, and a hammer to smooth out irregularities, every twist and turn is added by hand.
Heat truly is a unique lamp. Each one has a serial number connected to it, so we can trace it back to the person who made it.
‘Heat truly is a unique lamp, each one has a serial number connected to it, so we can trace it back to the person who made it.’
Where do you see your Heat design working best?
Simply put, wherever people gather, and in these socially isolating times, lighting design can play a huge part in supporting human connections, whether that’s around a dining table, kitchen island or hotel lobby.
Just like sunlight, moonlight and firelight, Heat spreads warm diffused light which naturally soothes our minds, lifts our spirits, and helps us to feel safe in our surroundings.
What are your top tips for using a lamp such as this in our homes?
- I would say don’t be afraid to show your personality when it comes to lighting. Have fun. Also, play with scale. With Heat being made from mesh, and almost translucent, it looks much lighter and smaller than other pendants of the same size.
- Heat also looks just as good off as it does on, and fits well into most environments. The brass and steel catch the eye, and bounce the light around a space, so wherever you choose to place Heat, take full advantage of its statement-making potential.
- When hanging a pendant, you will need to experiment to find the optimal height. So, do as I do when I shape a sculpture; step away from it and see it from a distance. If it is placed over a dining table or in a classic living room or TV room, sit down and check it does not interfere with the view to determine the best position.
How do you see the Heat series evolving in the future?
With us all now spending more time than ever on digital devices, and within the confines of the same four walls, the spaces and places that surround us need to intrigue and inspire.
I strongly think we would all benefit from more tactile and playful experiences being designed. Functional and sculptural pieces such as Heat, bridge the gap between art and design, and provide endless possibilities of exploration and discovery.