Vera & Kyte is a Bergen-based design studio made up of Vera Kleppe and Åshild Kyte. Together they design furniture, products and interior spaces. They describe themselves as “always seeking new impressions, eager to discover the trigger for our next idea.” It was that endless curiosity that interested me and drove me to find out more. We talked Post-It notes, collaboration and sea views…
What’s the most important thing to know about Vera & Kyte?
That we are always enthusiastic about what we do. We take enjoying work seriously.
Your work definitely looks very Norwegian, but it has a playfulness and perhaps a rebellion about it that’s uncommon in usually understated Scandinavian work – would you agree with that? Where does that come from?
Yes, thank you, it’s not always easy to view yourself objectively, but that was a nice way of putting it.
We’re both Norwegian and took our master degree at the Bergen National Academy of Art and Design so the Scandinavian design heritage is deeply embedded in us. This gives us the base on which to freely explore and develop our own style. What you have pointed out is our luxury of rebelling against and building upon at the same time.
Why is curiosity so important to you?
Curiosity is the starting point of all our endeavours. To us being curious is a fundamental approach and tool in our work. It’s a way of constantly seeking new knowledge. Wanting to know more about something this being a person, place, material, profession or any other thing or field of interest is a driving force in our work. Leading us to new experiments and collaborations, curiosity always keeps us looking.
What influence does being based on the West coast of Norway have on your work?
Our studio is located at USF Verftet a major multidisciplinary cultural arena. Situated in what used to be Norway’s largest canning factory our studio overlooks the harbour with its busy maritime traffic set against a spectacular backdrop of nature and contrasting weather conditions.
Bergen is a small city with a large and active cultural community. Whether you are newly established or an internationally renowned artist there is a strong sense of community and new constellations and interdisciplinary collaborations arise continuously. This was one of the main reasons we decided to base our studio here. Having talented musicians such as Kings of Convenience, Razika or Young Dreams informally stop by our studio is one of many inspirational influences in our daily routine.
What inspires you?
A lot! Art, films, magazines, architecture or even a person can leave us with an impression we want to work with. We are often driven by the desire to recreate a certain element of these experiences through our products.
What do you do to overcome creative block?
We distract ourselves. Creative blocks are the perfect occasions to do an online quiz and figure out which musical instrument we most resemble, google the world’s smallest animals or challenge each other with ridiculous dilemmas. If nothing else works we just go for a walk which hasn’t failed us yet.
Talk me through your design and making process.
Once we have established a vision for our project a chain of processes commence. Initially the wall of inspiration and Post-it ideas is created. This acts as an ever changing tool throughout the project. Sketches become scale models which then grow into full size mock ups. Switching between digital 3D modelling and hand crafted models is for us the most efficient way of getting a complete feel for the product. Inviting people around us to give feedback along the way helps to refresh our perspective. This input allows us to refine and improve the product further before a final prototype is created.
What’s your favourite part of the process?
The first sketch that triggers simultaneous enthusiasm! From that point the idea can only improve and the joy of modelling and refining begins!
What are you most proud of?
Our collaboratory skills. We work together on everything we engage in. The positive force the collaboration generates is a driving force in itself..
What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?
Take risks. Be persistent. Stay curious.
And finally, what’s your favourite colour?!
We love to work with colour palettes and play around with different combinations. This process can define or even alter the character of a product. We honestly don’t have a favourite colour, simply because we love to mix and match.
Further reading for the especially geeky:
Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.
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