Kristine Five Melvær & ESP

Mar 05, 2020Julia Kahrs

The collaboration between Kristine Five Melvær and Elisabeth Stray Pedersen is an exciting meeting between two creative and knowledgeable people, and the result is a series of unique jackets designed for strong, smart women. The garments provide good freedom of movement when you need to get things done in everyday life, they are ethical and sustainable with a quality that provides a long shelf life, and the flexibility of the garments also helps to give them a longer lifespan because they can change with the needs of the wearer over time.

What kind of work do you make?
Kristine Five Melvær: I design tableware, textile objects, furniture, lighting and graphic design.
Elisabeth Stray Pedersen: ESP OSLO designs and manufactures jackets, coats and scarves in Norwegian lamb's wool produced in Oslo.

What is your earliest memory related to art, or to creating something?
KFM: Making things was one of the funnest things I knew as a child. Both because you could make what you wanted from things you had lying around, and because of the feeling of flow where I forgot time and just enjoyed myself. I had a very creative father, with whom I often made things, for example costumes, boats and furniture.
ESP: I clearly remember queuing for 3 hours to enter a Monet exhibition in Paris when I was about 10 years old. I didn't think it was that exciting then, but am very happy now that art was given high priority over shopping and other fleeting activities while travelling. In relation to my own production, it was probably a skirt in burgundy corduroy that was my first work.

"I clearly remember queuing for 3 hours to enter a Monet exhibition in Paris when I was about 10 years old."

When in life did you first learn about your field of work? What brought you there?
KFM: I went to Steinerskolen in primary school, and there crafts, materials and colors are an integral part of most of what you do. When I transferred to public school, I took this way of working with me, even though I was in general studies. When I had to choose my education, I really wanted to work with something that gave me a sense of flow. The fact that the hours fly by, rather than waiting for the working day to end. And I liked how as a designer you both work freely and creatively, but also with logical problem solving. It suited me well.
ESP: I probably learned a lot through fashion magazines, which I grabbed from my older sister. I particularly read the Elle trend bible which had a presentation of all the designers' collections for the new season. I covered both designers and looks. I remember I started drawing my first sketches of designs when I was 13 years old. Me and a friend made a clothing brand for which we made a logo and put all the sketches on it.

What is the best advice you have received?
KFM: The best advice I have received is probably that it is just as important to say no as to say yes. At some point in the establishment phase, the inquiries you receive exceed the working capacity of a one-person company, and then it is quickly done to prioritize those who shout the loudest in the mailbox. It is particularly important to find time to design new products, it is what you do for a living. Then you have to be selective in relation to, for example, participation in exhibitions and press inquiries.
ESP: You never know who's listening so always live as well. Or in other words, you never know who you meet and what they may mean to you in the next round of life, so it is important to treat everyone with equal respect, and the same positive attitude, and not underestimate anyone you meet.

What is your relationship with the various materials you work with?
KFM: I like working with most materials, but glass and textile are the materials I have worked with the most, so I have an extra good relationship with them. I like the freedom you have when working with glass, and the opportunity you have to work graphically and colorfully with textiles.
ESP: As we work with the entire value chain, we have a close relationship with the materials. We know that the wool comes from farms around Gol.

Tell us a little about your workplace!
KFM: I sit in a creative community with a bunch of good ladies at Grünerløkka. ByHands are agents for a number of Norway's most talented illustrators, Ingrid is one half of Darling Clementine, Marianne runs All Pine Press and Nora is an author and illustrator of children's books. It is both professionally rewarding and social to sit together. We have such pleasant lunches that they are often a bit too long.
ESP: We have a studio at Økern in Oslo where we also have a seam production.

What is the most challenging thing about being your own boss?
KFM: It's probably the juggling act of having so many roles. It is important to keep your tongue firmly in your mouth and prioritize what is most important at any given time, and it is not necessarily the task that calls out the loudest. At the same time, I have a great deal of freedom, which I have felt more and more as I have become more established.
ESP: I guess it's having so much responsibility when you own a business. There is a lot of pressure all the time to keep Christmas going. Otherwise, it is having employees for whom you are responsible and you must ensure that they have a good workplace, work tasks, development, etc.

What motivates you?
KFM: I have a great desire to contribute to ensuring that we keep products for a long time, rather than buying and throwing them away at a furious pace. It motivates me to work with manufacturers who deliver quality, and to follow up this quality with good and lasting form, in products that people will hopefully be happy with. I am also motivated by the joy of creation and being in the flow process I talked about.
ESP: Trying to find more local and sustainable infrastructure for the clothing industry that might solve some of the problems that the industry has in terms of overproduction, lack of control over social conditions, etc.

"I have a great desire to contribute to ensuring that we keep products for a long time, rather than buying and throwing them away at a furious pace. It motivates me to work with manufacturers who deliver quality, and to follow up this quality with good and lasting form, in products that people will hopefully be happy with."

Do you have any tricks or techniques that never fail if you need inspiration or to get out of routines?
KFM: The best trick is to move away from the screen and work analogically. Preferably somewhere other than where I normally work, for example by going for a walk or sitting in a library. It is important not to do things the same way every time, but to ask yourself what is right for that particular project.
ESP: I am always inspired by secondhand and to style it together in new combinations.

Tell us a little about the items you are exhibiting in this year's exhibition.
On the line Jacket/Coat is a series of four different jackets/coats that all offer flexibility, with cords that can be tied as needed. The project has a full Norwegian value chain and is a collaboration with Røros Tweed on textiles, sewn at ESP's own sewing factory at Økern in Oslo, with ribbon from Møre Båndveveri. Two of the jackets can be opened all the way up and unfolded to a large surface, which makes it visible that they are no-waste jackets that use the entire width of the roll, without cutting off. On some of the jackets, a collar, a hood, or an extension of the jacket can be laced on and off as needed. Regarding the theme of the exhibition, we have had strong, smart women in mind throughout the process. The garments provide good freedom of movement and warmth when you need to get things done in everyday life. They are ethical and sustainable, through the no-waste principle, Norwegian production and a quality that gives a long shelf life. The flexibility of the garments also helps to give them a longer life, as they can change with the needs of the wearer over time.

How did the collaboration get started?
KFM: We talked about the possibility of collaborating for the first time during the speed date DogA organized in March 2018. We launched the first collaboration in 2019, and continue the collaboration now.
ESP: Both participated in a speed date between designers and manufacturers, initiated by Norway Designs at DogA. Kristine wanted to work more with garments and we wanted to work with Røros Tweed, with whom we want to collaborate on the project. Røros was positive and the collaboration was a fact. This is the second round of the collaboration, and we are now expanding from scarves to jackets, coats.

What kind of imprint or representation of yourselves have you left in the works for this exhibition?
KFM: We have been two collaborating designers on this project, so it is a mixture of our impressions. But we are both concerned with smart solutions and sustainable production processes. And both are entrepreneurs with lots of balls in the air, who know that you want functional, comfortable clothes that make it easy to get the job done. It has been nice to come from each of our sides, Elisabeth with her knowledge of cuts and seams, and me with my background in graphic design and the collaboration with Røros Tweed. I think we have complemented each other well and driven the projects forward in an exciting way.
ESP: Zero waste, produced in Norway, Norwegian wool - a step closer to something that corresponds to the values ​​I want to stand for. Exploit the potential of the infrastructure we have in our own company Equal design expression, which expresses a stable. Visual expression that can last for several years.

About Kristine Five Melvær & ESP

Kristine Five Melvær is an Oslo-based designer who works with textile products, lighting, bed linen, furniture and graphic design. Melvær has a master's degree in industrial design from the Oslo Academy of Architecture and Design (2008) and a master's degree in visual communication from the Oslo Academy of Arts (2012). By working with the communicative potential of objects as a means of creating emotional bonds between user and object, she unites these disciplines.

ESP is a Norwegian brand established by designer and founder Elisabeth Stray Pedersen. Stray Pedersen took over an over 60-year-old textile factory at Økern in Oslo in 2015, and since then ESP has developed its own wool products. With lamb's wool from free-ranging sheep in the area around Gol, they make, among other things, high-quality jackets, coats, blankets and scarves.

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