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Interview w/ Marte Marie Forsberg

We are always on the lookout in the Table test kitchen for kitchenware that is simple, yet stylish. We were thrilled to discover that food & lifestyle photographer, Marte Marie Forsberg has forayed out into the world of homewares (and now coffee!) Inspired by the three places she has called home over the years, Norway, Italy and England, Marie has worked alongside makers to design a line of products for her newest venture. Forsberg1935 is her new brand and with plans for a pop-up shop and plans to extend the line in the New Year we can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

Have you always wanted to work in design and textiles?  My mother is a textile designer and my grandmother was a fashion designer and seamstress so I think design may run in my veins. As early as I can remember I’ve spent time in my mother’s studio creating. She had a room on the second floor that was called the blue room, half the second floor covered from floor to ceiling with shelves filled with fabric in all different colours with yarn, sewing machines, knitting needles, weaves and crochet needles. In the basement she’d have clay and make pottery next to my father’s woodworking den. I think they both found creating relaxing, even if my father was a business man and never spent much time in his den making things, but it was there available to all of us kids growing up. Perhaps I was a bit predisposed to having a creative mind with a creative appetite for designing and creating.


How did you first think of Forsberg1935 as the name of your new line? When I was looking for a name for my newly launched lifestyle brand, something I’ve been wanting to do for years, I wanted the name to represent who I was as a woman and my heritage. I’ve always played with using my last name Forsberg as it feels so import in the making of who I am. My parents influence has been great, and I can honestly see the best education I ever received was at home. Since becoming a photographer and now author with the launch of my debut cookbook The Cottage Kitchen, I’ve payed homage to my mother on nearly every page and photo, so for this new venture I really wanted to include the wonderful influence of my dad as well. My journey began with the birth of my dad, who’s the oldest of my parents, 1935 is the year he was born and to he has become the symbol of the beginning of my creative journey. 


Tell us a bit about how you source the makers for each item. I go by it all rather slowly and organically. Through my work as a photographer and author I meet so many wonderfully talented people, and after my move to the English countryside over five years ago, I’ve met so many incredible people here around the English countryside where I live. I dream up products, gather ideas and materials over time, and then one day out if the blue you simply meet the right person to work with you on a project and I’m then ready to put that design into life. For this newly soft launched stoneware collection, I’m working with a wonderful potter in a village just a stones throw away that was ready to embark on this journey with me. The timing seemed perfect. I dream, sketch, research, plan and then wait till I meet the right person, and then I simply jump. Waiting for the right time is wasted, but waiting for the right person to work with and help make my designs a reality is essential for me in making sure the end product has that right look and quality. Everything is always handmade.


What's your most beloved Forsberg1935 item? At the moment I’m simply in love with the elegant individual curves of my Cottage collection of stoneware. Dinner plates, lunch plates, small salt bowls, milk or olive oil bottles and wonky espresso cups and saucers. The espresso set is so stinking cute they may be my favourites.


Describe the process when designing each item, do you come up with the idea and then find the maker? Or do you find makers that you want to work with and go from there? I’ve been designing for years, and collected fabric, tear sheets, vintage clothes and items, done research and waited, the time simply wasn’t right until now. My design process can begin with shapes, colour or texture, that send me off on a journey where I sketch, dream and gather it all in a folder. When I meet a maker that I believe can make my design come to life I jump on it, ready with all my deigns in my bag. Products take on a life on their own as we begin working together, but then after a few tests all of a sudden it simply clicks and you know that plate, cup or bag is ready. Finding the right maker who understands what I’m after is so important as they are the ones that breathe life into my designs and make them come alive. It’s such an exciting process. Because I already have work I love, I take my time when it comes to Forsberg 1935, nothing is rushed. I want people to feel the weight of that dinner plate in their hands, run their fingers over the unique texture on the surface and sling it’s curves and know they have a one off piece that’s filled with love, quality and is done thing that will last.


As a food & lifestyle photographer you're coming from a different perspective than most in product design. How do you think this has influenced some of the items in your shop? My first university degree is in fashion design, but I was too distracted by all the possibilities out there to, at age 20 settle for that degree. So I continued on and studied middle eastern studies, languages and politics. In my last semester I began photography for fun which led me down a path of creating a life out of my love for telling visual stories, but design was always there in the background. I believe in time working it’s magic. I wasn’t ready at age 20 to design with a point of view. I don’t think I’d lived and explored enough to have a unique voice. As I traveled, worked and lived in many places around the world I began working as a photographer and my confidence grew. Then five years ago I found a home here in the English countryside and it was like all the puzzle pieces fit. I was older, had lots of experiences and adventures to pull from. The confidence in my own voice had grown and I felt ready to create, but perhaps most importantly share what I had created. I feel like for the first time I have strong point of view in my design, a story to tell and the confidence to share it. This long journey, all the adventures and time has matured my design process and voice, and I think this really comes through in my design process and ultimately my products. I may not have a straightforward product design background but perhaps that sets me free in a way to create without knowing all the rules of the game. There’s a great sense of freedom in that.

Where do you see the brand going in the next year or so? It’s ever so exciting to think of the future of Forsberg 1935 as I have so many new designs in the pipeline. The cottage stoneware collection is expanding next year, and a few leather items will hit the shop too. We’re currently eco roasting the perfect espresso blend to go with our cute little espresso cups and saucers and beautiful stoneware lamps based on the Cottage collection will arrive before the summer. It’s exciting and really good fun. I feel like all these ideas that have just been filed away because the time wasn’t right is finally been given permission to fly. Maybe it’s because at the end of the day, when you stop waiting for the right moment to arrive to do what you love, and chose to simply go for it, magic happens. So the future for Forsberg 1935 looks ever so exciting and I can’t wait to properly launch our world, vision, website, online and pop up shop next year. 

Photographs by Marte Marie Forsberg
Interview by Ariana Ruth