“Silicone is a fairly sustainable material”



Beate Karlsson, a Central Saint Martins and Parson’s School of Design graduate, embodies the working mindset of new generations: organically knitting sustainability to the core of their practices. In conversation, the Swedish artist tells Luxiders about the environmental pros and cons of using silicone; explaining why rising creatives feel no need to pose as sustainable actors, for they assume this aspect is not an option, but an imperative call. 



Beate Karlsson’s sculptural designs materialise where silicone and complex artistry intersect. Beate Karlsson is a multidisciplinary New York-based creative whose sense of humour and craft for voluptuous structures is keeping her name in the headlines. Karlsson presents playful, unconventional, witty collections that, at her 25 years of age, revitalise well-established Scandinavian minimalist design. Her creations feel like a mesmerising ride through pastel colours exalted by tremendous proportions. In our tête-à-tête, Karlsson speaks of strangeness, otherness and fluidity in the creative process—the three elements that ground her creations.


Hi Beate! I see colossal proportions, peculiar shapes and a lot of silicone in your designs. How did it all come together?

I’m frequently trying to elevate my knowledge of shapes, so my work has become very silhouette-driven. One of my biggest passions is to work in clay as it expands the limitations to realise new structures. In that way, proportions and oversized concepts have been part of this line of thought — it’s been an applicable methodology to reach “strangeness” in figures. Silicone has become the ideal medium for my pieces since it's flexible and can, essentially, function as fabric while achieving more complex shapes.


How can silicone be sustainable? And how, overall, is your work sustainable?

Silicone is a fairly sustainable material, it’s better than plastic in terms of resource extraction. It’s non-toxic, recyclable and very durable. However, it isn’t infinitely biodegradable so it still creates a waste problem. I usually work in very small quantities as I generally make single pieces. In that way, it becomes more sustainable. 


I have noticed that many artists prefer to keep their commitment to sustainability away from the spotlight. What are your thoughts on this?

Well, if you’re aware of the current state of the world it feels mandatory to consider sustainability in your creative process, especially if you work in creating physical material and physical waste. I believe that people are generally more aware of the importance of having environmentally friendly processes and therefore, it might feel unnatural to make a stance since it goes without saying. This being said, I think there’s still a function of “posing” with being sustainable since it probably inspires and strengthens the aspiration of sustainability.


Your designs are fun, eclectic, edgy – and uncommon. What is it that you strive for?

Thank you for those kind words! As a designer I feel that my biggest task is to provide a new or, somehow, better perspective. Therefore, I try to move away from my own associations to create something noteworthy. This is not necessarily where I always end up, but I want to keep striving for otherness since I think it creates the most interesting work. Although it isn’t always straightforward, especially considering the contemporary pace, I think that the attempt to create something different is the most substantial thing in a creative process.


What’s the creative process behind a final piece? 

Oh, hard question. It changes tons from project to project, but I guess the general assembly of steps is: I get a vision of a piece that feels worth exploring; I sketch or create a clay prototype, and then I execute it. I don’t have the best patience and I also feel like you can often lose the “magic” of an idea if it takes too long to bring it to fruition. So I try to find the most effective medium to work in to make the process as smooth as possible.


You said you’re currently working on a collection entirely made of silicone; how’s it evolving?

Yes, I’m very excited about this. I’ve been exploring with a new moulding technique that is very effective for making complicated 3D shapes, and which I will be using to create conceptual shoes, accessories and clothing. Right now, I’m finishing off an all-silicone blazer that has a kind of zombie-like drip effect!


Photos courtesy of Beate Karlsson.



   +  Words: Alejandra Espinosa, Luxiders Magazine Editor

Liberal Arts graduate | Berlin-based writer

Find her on LinkedIn