Imagination and colour in balance
A firework display of inspiration, colours and patterns. Welcome to Hanna Werning’s studio!
Although romantically, classically flowery at first glance, look closer, and you’ll soon spot a toad jumping, dancing, stepping out. Evoking a fairytale world, but like none other, Hanna Werning has created Kvackstepp, one of five wallpapers, designed for Boråstapeter. The European green toad is actually a beach-lover, but in Kvackstepp, we see no shore, but rather cheery croaking in amongst rhododendron, dog rose, primrose and other stunning flora.
Entering Hanna Werning’s Swedish studio is a firework display of inspiration. An aquarium of shapes, colours and designs. We’ve barely introduced ourselves before we’re launched into a heated discussion about a classic Swedish children’s book in which a mysterious someone, who turns out to be a kitty, leaves a trail of clues. We talk about the fascination of imagination and thrilling encounters.
“I grew up on an ordinary terraced housing estate. For anything out of the ordinary, you had to look further afield”, Hanna explains, adding:
“For me, it started with colourful comics and other light reading on mum’s bookshelves. I reckon there was more magic to sights back then. I didn’t entertain unattainable dreams, but instead sought out the magic of everyday things. I have this craving to explore new places, and it thrills me to see things in new ways."
"As a child, I studied moss close up, I liked the zoom-in effect, and still do”.
In the heart of the 15 sq.m. studio, Hanna has her own DIY drawing table, built from flea-market finds, and an old radio. She explains that the drawing table was created in the same way as her designs.
“I do collages; that’s my way of working. I don’t start out with a clear idea of what the design will look like. I do a flower here, then one there; it’s like piecing a jigsaw puzzle”, she says, drawing her pen across the iPad to show us.
Hanna is intrigued by physical places, by nature as a source of inspiration, and is influenced by how flowers have been portrayed over the ages. Her patterns are born out of edgy interactions and a large dose of inventiveness. The names she gives her wallpapers offer a hint at the thoughts that went into them.
The names of the patterns consist of two words that refer in some way to the motif, but may also be non-referential.
“The idea is for it to be a name that doesn’t already exist. As I see it, names serve as an ‘explanation’ or more as an invitation to explore more of the motifs, to come up with your own impression or thoughts around them”.
She explains that she is inspired by vegetation and the sense of greenery growing and changing.
“It may also be some form of motion; the breezes blowing, or creatures leaping or gliding. I like motifs people can return to and discover new details in, depending on how they are looking. I like contrasts and opposites, large and small at the same time; true scale doesn’t concern me. I’m fascinated by nature’s own creations and by what Man creates in the natural world. As a child, I dreamt of writing stories, but I draw them instead”.
The drawing table has illustrated books of flora, tropical fish, caged birds, all in colour images, and the occasional page has a sticker to show it holds something of interest. The new collection for Boråstapeter has just arrived, hot off the press, and together we unfurl the first rolls.
“I’m immensely thrilled and humbled by the whole wallpaper print manufacturing process. One challenge this time was that the printing technique was different to before, being digital rather than collagraph printing. But this meant that I could work with a larger number of colours per pattern than before, and allowed me to rethink ways of creating structure”, she says, smiling at the result.
She explains that her starting point in creating patterns is the notion of a mental refuge and that a lot is based on an intuition.
“The flat surface vanishes, instead taking on depth, wrapped in a fantasy. The content does not always come from a specific idea, but emerges, just like freshly sown seeds in spring. Next, I blend in the same variety of blooms that I've created at different times, and create as a new place. The Friviva pattern is a good example of that."
"This is not realistic, yet the plants are sourced from the real world”.
About Hanna Werning:
Profession: Graphic designer
Resides in: Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden
Most inspiring project: The usual thing is to refer to what you’ve just done, but I’m going to say ‘the future’. Because you never know what’s to come.
Text: Jill Windahl
Photo: Lina Östling
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