Iris by Clara von Zweigbergk

Many of the products Clara von Zweigbergk has designed originate from her work with paper. This can be seen in one of her most well-known products, Kaleido, a series of steel trays in different shapes and colours. The Iris Collection, a new series of vases, mugs and penholders in porcelain and made in the famous Arita, Japan porcelain factory, is no exception.

We visited Claras’ studio in Stockholm, to find out a bit more about how the graphic designer found inspiration for her new collection, Iris.  

“I usually sketch products by folding and building shapes in paper. It’s an interesting process that often gives you a different end result than you first intended. It’s very intuitive, and provides certain limitations that lead to unexpected solutions.” 

What was the design process like? 

I have a big love for paper and folding it. I once had a colleague who named me the “paperholic”, he caught me far too often with a freshly shopped roll of paper. So appropriately, the Iris Collection stems from experimenting in folding rounded shapes in various paper weights.

One shape led to another and quite soon there was around 20 pieces of paper objects, vases, pen holders and later mugs. The best ones are actually made out of the last sheets of a much-loved Japanese paper, in very unusual (for print) colours, bought in Tokyo. 

Why did you decide to work in porcelain? 

The aim was to keep the feeling of the paper prototypes. Porcelain gives the same sense of fragility since it can become quite thin and yet it is durable, and the surface can be totally matt, something that felt important for the collection. I was very happy we did them with Arita, their expert knowledge of porcelain and attention to detail made the finished products look just like the paper prototypes.

The color palette is quite muted, how did you decide on the colors?

At first, I had a more distinct and darker colour palette in mind. For example, Rusty red and Forrest green. Upon further research, we learned darker colors would only be possible with good results if we used a glaze.

In order to keep them absolutely matt, which felt important for the series, Arita provided us with the possibility of coloring the clay, which was something new we didn’t expect. It was an exciting process and when we started experimenting with lighter colours we selected more than we originally thought. So, in this case the clay selected the palette in a way, and I think they turned out very nice.

What influences your designs the most?

It can be the possibilities and limitations of a certain material, a function, or something seen in nature. Most of my product ideas come from sketching in paper, or clay.

Things get discovered while working, rather than based on clear ideas. In that aspect, the idea phase is quite intuitive or organic I guess.