Meet the designer: Butler/Lindgård

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For design duo Butler/Lindgård, the process in creating new pieces is essential. Having worked together since 2009, they are well in sync and have created a process that allows them to explore different topics in new ways. The result is stunning, thought provoking and all handmade.

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But let’s start at the beginning. Hanna Butler and Karin Lindgård both lives in Malmö, and met when studying textile design at Danish School of Design in Copenhagen. “We started in different years, but upon returning from our maternity leave, we ended up in the same class. As we were both in the same phase in our lives, and also commuted from Malmö to Copenhagen together, we got to know each other well. We did a few group projects together and learned that we also worked well together. Not only did we share the same views on the process, we complemented and challenged one another in a way that makes the end result so much better than if we had done it by our selves” they tell us. The first products they created together was handprinted scarves for the Christmas market at school, and soon after that they did their Bachelor project together.

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Both of them have grown up in homes with a lot of creativity. “My grandmother, and my mother, has always been very creative” Karin explains. “My grandmother totally lacked respect for the arts, if she thought a painting she had at home was a bit boring, she pulled out the brushes and added some gold or colour. That has really inspired me in my creative thinking”. Hanna continues: “it was the same for me, my mother has always been very creative and my stepfather is a painter so creativity has always been there”.

In 2012 they won The Almedahl Award, and soon decided that they wanted to move on from school and start their own business. “At a certain point, you realise that all the projects and assignments in school are just made up. They are great for learning the process, but we wanted to create things for real customers” they tell us.
They have worked together ever since, but their joint projects are not their only occupation. “We like to mix our business with other project. This spring Hanna will be working as a handicraft teacher part-time, and I’m working with costumes for a film project” Karin tells us. “In part it is about the money, but it is also a great way to get new influences and ideas, so I think we’ll continue to mix our projects like this” Karin says.

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When starting their business, they got the opportunity to join a communal textile society in Malmö. The group consists of about 50 members and with the support of the city, they share a big workshop for textile printing. “This is really essential for us, we would never be able to do the work we like to do by ourselves. In the workshop, the biggest bench for printing is 11 metres long and we have all the tools and space we need. We really like to work in a bigger scale, so this is perfect for us. We still would like to explore other textile techniques as well, but for now we are focusing on printing”.

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Their work is a way for them to express themselves in different questions, and they don’t mind getting political. The creative process is a very important part for the duo, and when we touch on the subject you can see the sparkle in their eyes. “We have developed a certain process over the years, and it works really well for us. We decide on a topic, and then discuss it and research it thoroughly. When starting the sketching, we work with quantity and make a lot of different sketches quickly, both independently and together. After that, we take bits and pieces of the different ideas and continue to evolve it from there. Our starting point is always form, and we add different techniques and colours later in the process”. Even though they like to use their art to express a political view, it is equally important for them that the result stands on its own. “You shouldn’t need to understand our thoughts to enjoy it, it should just add an extra dimension,” they add.

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Their latest project, which they are best known for, is called Tits ‘n Ass. “We want to explore how the human body is used in the public arena. It all started when I had my youngest kid and were denied to breast
feed in a museum. We noticed that the climate and discussions changed a lot
from the time when we had our oldest kids, it has become a lot more about the perception of a perfect body. This is an on-going debate for women, but it goes for the male body as well” Hanna tells us. The project consists of different parts and one is the pattern Nipple, used on paper, textile and wood. “We got in touch with the management of Malmöfestivalen, the yearly city festival here in Malmö, and ended up printing the pattern on a 50 metre long plywood wall. We did some workshops as well, and loved the discussions we had with the visitors. It was very well received, and it was fun to hear that so many could see different things in the pattern, we heard everything from breasts and waves, to dogs!”.

Their new pattern Traces is also part of the Tits ‘n Ass project. “We really wanted to work with a choreographer, so we created a piece where we use our full bodies to create the pattern. On the actual day when we did the performance, the atmosphere in the studio was really something special, and we’d love to be able to do something similar again”.

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During their time together, they’ve continued to follow the same phases of life. “We each have three kids, and our youngest are just a few months apart, soon three years old. It has been wonderful to be able to work together like this, and we’ve found a good balance between our joint projects, our other projects and our personal lives. Butler/Lindgård is most likely a lifelong project for us, we still have a lot of ideas and projects on our bucket list!” they tell us as we leave the workshop in Malmö, filled with inspiration and admiration.

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