Quiet jazz and dimmed pinkish lighting was the perfect setting for Ronja and I to meet and talk with Mold Atelier, a creative studio based in Oslo whose simple and elegant style was definitely reflected in their apartment and studio space. The studio is made up of the duo Linda Christiansen and Mikal Strøm. Linda is a stylist and designer. Mikal, an art director and photographer. They started Mold Atelier in early 2018 and have since launched a number of products as well as building up a studio offering creative services such as photography, art direction, styling and content creation.
Linda moved to Oslo from a small village just outside of Gothenburg in 2014. 'I came to Oslo to visit a friend' she says, 'Then I fell in love with the place and I moved here the next day!'. Upon moving she began working with HAY and after three years she moved to Copenhagen; 'I have always wanted to live in Denmark, I love the nature, the food, the people, and most of all the design. My fathers parents were Danish so I have lots of roots/relatives there'. However, her tenure in Denmark did not last long being. She was secretly in love with Mikal at the time and quickly moved back to Oslo. Later that summer they moved in together and it was then that she began making jewellery. Mikal is a Oslo native with a bachelor degree in Art Direction from Westerdals. Alongside Mold Atelier he is the full time Art Director of Scandinavian menswear fashion chain Volt.
The first collection from Mold Atelier was a jewellery range which lay neatly on patterned magazine spreads and wooden table tops in the apartment. 'This is Jim and this is Sara'; we were introduced to two sets of earrings from the collection. 'In the beginning I didn´t actually know what I was doing, I just ordered lots of different materials and started experimenting and making pretty things for me and my close ones. Therefore the first earrings are named after my friends that inspired me along the way'. Linda makes all the earrings herself - 'Mikal does sometimes help me *they laugh*, but it is quite tricky, you have to be quite careful as the material is quite delicate'. Mikal talks about the time he tried, but failed because of the intricate and delicate work.
After experimenting with different materials, Linda decided on using thin sheet brass metal. 'I just cut it with a regular scissor as I thought that was easier than using pliers' says Linda as she explained her makeshift process. 'I then polish it with a fine grain sand paper and finally punch tiny holes using a hammer and nail'. The process of making one earring sounded very intricate and seemingly intense. I really liked comparing her process to the fact that her inspiration was her friends, it gives the collection a lot of authenticity and realness.
The next step for the production is to 'Free up some Linda’s time to make new designs instead of just producing', says Mikal, especially as they are working with such large quantities of orders at the moment. One job in particular is for Bolina and is their largest order yet, which Linda is producing all by herself. In order to manage future jobs, such as these, they will look for alternate production opportunities such as a laser manufacturer in the US who may be able to cut the brass for them. They both agreed that 'Working together and inspiring each other' was the most enjoyable part of the process of starting their own business; 'It’s really nice to be able to do what you want and build something from nothing'.
Along with their friends, Linda and Mikal are both inspired by nature and this is especially reflected in their current release. 'The new collection is inspired by stones. We drove through the US this summer and got inspired by the nature that we saw on the way'. They discussed the unlimited inspiration that is all over social media and that their main sources come from 'Playing with shapes and materials as well as nature and spaces...cultural and societal shifts and the entrepreneurial tendency in todays youth'. The first two collections have been produced using brass, which naturally darkens when it oxidizes, making the pieces look alive. The next collection will be created using wood gathered from the forest in Linda’s home town as they continue to create ideas from nature.
As interest is increasing, Mold have plans to move in to a studio space where they can work more with their business; 'I think a couple more major orders and it will make financial sense'. Mikal handles the communication and marketing side of the business and agreed with Linda that 'It’s probably 50/50' between the duo promoting themselves and people approaching them. When talking about how orders might come in, Mikal gave us an example: 'We had a collaboration with someone at the FRAMA store in copenhagen who was wearing the "Jim" earrings when our new customer entered. A couple of days later a rather large order came in'. As well as '100% of the marketing (being) word of mouth and instagram', articles in magazines such as Milk Decoration in France have increased interest and sales in cities such as Paris and Copenhagen - where most of their current customers are from.
The new collection launched October 22nd and is now available online at moldatelier.com. At the moment Mold are stocking at F5 Concept Store, the new Aure store in Copenhagen and soon, Bolina. 'One of the challenges we’re facing is scaling up, not too fast, but not too slow either. Making everything by hand is really not efficient, but efficiency is not our goal either'. The pair promise that we’ll see several new stockists in the coming months but at the moment they want to be known for 'Making really nice products, in a sustainable way, and in the near future we want to be known as the studio and agency that we’re evolving into'.
We thoroughly enjoyed our insight in to the processes behind Mold Atelier's products and ambitions for the future, we wish them the best with the new collection and the many collections to come!
All photography from interview by Ronja Penzo
All photography in slideshow by Mikal Strøm