Elsa Unnegård

Elsa is a furniture designer who grew up in the small town of Edsbyn in the middle of Sweden with a toolmaker dad and and a mother working in advertising – and they both influenced her. She is ”in love with wood” and driven by lust. After making the lovely armchair V.EU.01 for Verk it got clear to her why a lot of designers are ”obsessed” with making chairs – ”they are so hard to make”!

Why did you become a designer?

– I guess I have to blame my parents. My dad inspired me with the construction aspect and my mom with the more creative parts. But it was probably in my grandfathers forge, where I hung out all the time, playing with pieces of metal, that I created my first ”products”. After moving to Stockholm I studied Metal Design at Nyckelviken School but realized quickly that I was appealed to making furniture. I changed direction and fell in love with wood on the one hand and Interior design as a whole om the other. Therefore I started studying Interior Architecture and furniture design at Konstfack. One can say that all my choices have really been based on pure desire, and the will to progress and learn more.

What are your main design qualities?

– Probably the fact that I have a good balance between form and construction, and that I am familiar with many different materials. I love to work sculpturally, with pure compositions, but when it comes to design I think it is crucial to have a clear logic behind every decision and that all parts fulfill a function – design can never be about “just” decoration. I rather peel off than add more.

Tell us about the armchair V.EU.01!

– There are so many amazing chairs out there and it’s hard to say what makes one unique. But what I like most about V.EU.01 is that it has a clear artisan expression, with exposed joints for the load-bearing structure and a light seat in contrast.

What was the brief?

– The brief was to design a comfortable arm chair for longer sittings, entirely in solid wood. No nails, no screws and no layer gluing. And of course, since it was to be made for Verk, it should be all Swedish, in terms of materials and production. Beside of that, there were no restrictions!

What was most challenging during the process?

– The task itself: Making a arm chair! Now in retrospect, I understand why many designers are “obsessed” with drawing chairs – they obviously are one of the more difficult pieces of furniture to make. The furniture is in direct contact with the body, so as a designer you can’t ”get away” with anything. If there is something that is not one hundred, it is immediately noticeable But it’s also what I’ve liked the most about the process.

Why did you want to work with Verk?

– Because they are uncompromising and prove people wrong – making furniture all Swedish through and through really is possible. Verk don’t take shortcuts. Above all, I love the fact about reducing the climate footprint. We have so much artisanal tradition in this country, and I am proud to work with a company that is in demand and thus allows the competence to live on.

Can design make the world a better place?

– It depends on what you weigh into it. Not design as in design, but if I let myself be a little naive; design as in making use of previous experiences and coming up with something new can make a difference. This question is complex, but when boiling it down – that is what design is all about.

Design by
Elsa Unnegård