I’m continually inspired by those who color outside the lines, play without rules and run without boundaries. Perhaps it stems from my own insecurities, this lust for an adventuresome spirit. As anyone who knows me will attest, I’m a fairly predictable (rigid?) gal. I eat the same breakfast daily, follow the same deadlines weekly, arrange my desk in precisely the same fashion each afternoon. I’m a lover of structure, and often have to continually remind myself that the unknown is good. Great, even. And if this is my lesson of the moment, Isabel Berglund is my willing teacher.
Placing Danish textile designer Isabel Berglund into a category is impossible. She’s an artist, skillfully knitting objects and installations that toy with reality and perception. She’s a designer, conceptualizing headdresses and fashion-inspired showpieces for magazines and galleries throughout the globe. She’s a thinker, crafting artwork that prompt you to question the very fiber of your surroundings. And on most days, she’s all of the above, knitted together with the threads of creativity and freedom and play.
“My inspiration comes from everyday life, people, words and objects,” she writes. “I work on projects that relate to the body and the border between function and abstract thinking, hard and soft, the recognizable and unexpected. I find it interesting to work with everyday objects that are put together with puns and concepts. Part of my work is about creating a dialogue between the story I see in the concrete object and the story that I will make with the sculpture.”
In a recent installation titled Closet Knitter, a large, hand-knit white closet is open, revealing a chair that has a sweater for a seat and a wig for a lamp. When you look inside the closet, the knitted universe sparks a series of abstract associations related to each object: Is the sweater a chair? The lamp a wig? The closet a room? “The work is designed to place itself in between categories such as design, art and fashion,” Isabel writes. “It questions when a work belongs in a certain category, and why.”
And the truth is, work doesn’t belong in a certain category, just as we don’t. Often times, beauty appears most in the blur. The mixing of flavors to unearth something tasty, the blending of paint palettes to create a new color story – and in Isabel’s case, the knitting of common fibers to build an unexpected reality.
It’s a common misconception that we must stand alone to stand out – that we must create categories and rules and boundaries for society – choosing where we fit and donning our uniform accordingly. Yet today, I’m reminded that we are more beautiful together when we allow the fibers of ourselves to bend and flex, to be woven into something bigger than ourselves. Something beyond categories and limits and expectations. Something that transcends the boundaries we’ve created in our minds, ready to be cut and re-stitched and shaped anew. We are more than mothers or teachers or day-job-workers. We are more than our home and our car and our 401K. We are more than our labels and our shortcomings and our doubts.
We are more than the sum of our parts. We are complex and abstract and beautiful, blending experience with passion and perspective with cause. And if Isabel’s work can transcend categories, so too can we.
Image Credits: Isabel Berglund