Lena Bergström began her career as a textile designer – a background that manifests in her glass design. Her inspiration comes from her deep interests in fashion, architecture and our contemporary time, as well as a love of the traditions, craftsmanship and – not least – the nature of Norrland, where she grew up.
“Nature has always been important to me,” says Lena Bergström. “Norrland has so much sky – gray, white, light blue, with long, graphic shadows in wintertime. But stumps in the forest can also be buildings in the city. Tracks in the snow can be textures on silk. Nature and cities, organic and sharp qualities, timelessness and today, nerves and elegance – the contrasts between these poles all add tension to my design.”
Lena Bergström was born and raised in Umeå, the city of birch trees – a legacy that has also left an impression on her design style. Birch trees and Norrland steel are among her favorite materials, in addition to glass, linen and wool. Her first dream was to be an architect. Instead, she moved to Stockholm where she attended a general art school, and then enrolled in the textile program at the University of Arts, Crafts & Design. She quickly garnered success as a textile designer, which led to being hired as a designer for Orrefors in 1994.
Lena Bergström also quickly made a name for herself as a glass designer with collections from the 1990s such as Havanna and Slitz, inspired by “architectural” fashion designers such as Issey Miyake and Hussein Chalayan. Another product that earned early acclaim was the Apple Core from 1995 – Lena’s audacious interpretation of Ingeborg Lundin’s classic Apple from 1955.
For more than 25 years at Kosta Boda and at Orrefors, Lena Bergström has created a number of beloved, best-selling collections – classics such as Cyrano, Squeeze, the Puck votive candle holder, Avanti, Pastillo, Mingel, Carat, and more.
An internationally acclaimed collection that has come to characterize Lena in the 2000s is Planets, which first launched at an exhibition at Vessel Gallery in London in 2001. Lena’s planetary system has subsequently been developed and varied in numerous designs and colorways, with different experimental surface treatments and cuts. The planets have been shown in different spatial configurations at exhibitions in Sweden and abroad, and have also taken on the guise of flowers in the new Peony collection.
“The basic shape for the planets is the egg – an egg that has cracked and formed interesting new shapes,” says Lena. “They have changed over time and with my mood. They have been mild and colorful, and timid and transparent, like foliage. They have sunk down into the world of shells, matte on the outside with shiny, metallic interiors. The shape can be varied endlessly, becoming a rose, or a bird with wings. The Planets are truly a collaboration between myself and the glassblowers and master cutters. An enormous amount of craftsmanship goes into them.”
During her long, successful and award-winning career, Lena Bergström has had a large number of exhibitions in Sweden and internationally. Her public art commissions include creations for the Swedish embassies in Tokyo and Bucharest, the reception desk at the Clarion Hotel Post in Gothenburg, and the crystal bar in Orrefors. Lena Bergström’s glass art is represented in collections and museums including the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Röhsska Museum in Gothenburg, National Museum in Olso, the Cleveland Art Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
In fall and winter 2021/2022, Kosta Boda will be paying tribute to Lena Bergström and everything she has done for Swedish glass with the exhibition Lena 25+ at Kosta Art Gallery in Kosta – a retrospective look back combined with a presentation of Lena’s glass design here and now.
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