"The Thorís Hammer company had the name for the vodka, and they asked me to design the bottle for them with the Viking theme. So I started to do a lot of research on the Vikings, like how they built things, their crafts, their jewelry, how they made their helmets.
I always try to do something genuine from the ground; so itís not just on the surface or something that just passes by. The Vikingís have been with us for hundreds of years, and I wanted the bottle to reflect that. Thatís why I think itís good to do a lot of research to get the authenticity.
I have been a traditional artist from the beginning, so thatís where the packaging design starts from. People know me from the [non-commercial] work and they think that if I do sculpture, I understand form and shapes.
In the beginning, we started the [structural design] of the bottle to be shaped like a hammer, but it was difficult to do the shape in production. So we gave up the idea and came up with a new design.
First I looked at how the Vikingís did their helmets. They couldnít weld, so they drilled a hole and then hammered the rivets Ė that gives the helmet a band to keep things together. And thatís whatís on the side of the bottle; it keeps the two halves of the bottle together.
Then we worked to get it to look like itís old. All the newly designed [vodka] bottles are very smooth and very perfect. Theyíre not so detailed. But we did this bottle, to be more like a hammered effect, so it doesnít look so clean. I think it makes it a little bit magic with this surface that is hammered. It looks old and antique. Itís like when you look at very old windows, when they didnít have the machinery to do it so well. And thatís the effect I try to make so it looks a little bit old fashioned. The cork on the top is in oak because I wanted it to have this genuine material.
Thor is the god of thunder and there are many stories about him. Itís nice to make an old authentic design in the age of new computers and new things. And it sells very well in all the markets that it has reached. It looks a little odd, which distinguishes it from the very clean bottles next to it.
I like to work on new designs because as an artist, I can come up with anything. I work on developing new things that are not on this earth, that come from the subconscious world of mine. So to come up with new interesting things is no problem, for my mind because it feels very natural Ė thatís my work as an artist. Then I just have to direct it to production, to see if it works.
When I work on a new concept, I start with clay models because then you are completely free. You donít have any constraints from the computer. I take maybe five different clay models, and from these five different shapes, we choose three to carry on the process and refine them. Then I use the computer to build a 3D version of these clay models, and do the label or logo. For this project, we started with the clay model and then the first bottle was hand blown. Once we had a real glass version it went into production.
The design magazines that have written about the bottle say itís like a vase. So I think people keep it and use it for other things. Thorís Hammer was very happy with the design, and now itís gone on to win a lot of awards so they are even happier.
My parents were not artistic people. I started as an artist quite late Ė at 25 Ė and for 15 years Iíve been painting and sculpting and doing graphic design. When I started art school in GŲteburg, then I understood that this is what Iíd been doing all my life. Iíd never painted or done sculpture but I felt in my body that I was at home.
When I was younger I used to look a lot at Salvador Daliís work. Now I very much like Willem De Kooning; he is a big inspiration for me. When I saw his work, I thought this is something else. Those two are the foremost influences.... And [Antonio] Gaudi. I think heís one of my favorite architects. As well as this American Frank Gehry. He works more like a sculptor Ė with clay. Heís thinking in a different way and he applies it to society. Thatís what I think art is about. You have your own brain in your own universe, and then you come up with new things in society for people to look at. Itís like Iím in the deep subconscious world and I try to explain what has happened to me emotionally and express that in sculpture or painting. Others can look at it and get their own contact with their own subconscious world. They can get contact with themselves."