Artist and architect Carouschka Streijffert’s main tool is her three dimensional vision. We visited her studio and home on Södermalm in Stockholm where she has paid attention to every millimetre.
You share your time between the city and your private island in the Stockholm archipelago without electricity and water. What does that contrast mean to you?
Many years ago I lived in New York and I hated nature, I thought it was silly. But in my 40s I visited Stockholm’s archipelago and thought it was paradise. I had been rushing after something that was an illusion.
On the island I have no water or electricity. I get some from solar cells, but otherwise I live with the natural light and during summer there is lots of it. I drive my motorboat there and you really feel alive. I love to have power over the engine – it’s a hell of a feeling to navigate through the archipelago. In the city I swap the boat for a cab. I used to drive a motorbike too.
What can a day be like on your remote island?
I start the day with a coffee, followed by a swim in the sea. I love kayaking. Then I make my sculptures, and I chop firewood.
Where in the city to you go for inspiration?
I’m looking forward to visiting the restored Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. The city is beautiful. I love biking through Djurgården – we have forest and nature near every borough.
What does your vision mean to you?
I have a three-dimensional vision, from early on. I painted machines not princesses. I think three-dimensionally. When I wander through the city I don’t look in shop windows or on people, I look at the facades and how doors are attached to the building. I’m constantly scanning the city and its pavements.
How far would you go when it comes to your vision?
There is no limit, as far as I need to. In a project the budget and client will limit you. I see possibilities, and can view things in different scales. It’s fascinating. I can’t sing or read notes or melodies, but I know proportions, measurements and scales.
Your library is an amazing room inspired by Gunnar Asplund’s Stockholm Public Library.
Yes, I’ve paid homage to the public library and architect Gunnar Asplund. I love the functionality – I get so upset by modern buildings that scream for attention. A building should receive attention because it’s functional. The other way around is wrong – it has no content. Just look at the planned Nobel museum in Stockholm. It is a scandal.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I’m a poetic functionalist. I like construction and function in order for it to work. My artistic work is the opposite – it has no function.
You make art from objects you find on the street. Are you constantly looking for the next thing?
I love materials and to shape it with my own hands. It can be a piece of metal that I stumble across on the pavement, wood from the archipelago or a piece of paper from the street. Unfortunately there has been a decrease in beautiful tickets and receipts since the digitalisation. I get euphoric when I stumble across something. Not on Instagram or Facebook – but live.
What’s your favourite building?
The Guggenheim museum in New York. To take the lift to the top floor and slowly wander through the room. I love the openness. In Stockholm iljevalchs is amazing, you can walk round with no stop. Museums are like cathedrals, such as the St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
What does style mean to you?
During the 1980s I wore a lot of Comme des Garçons, their jackets and cuts were great but not anymore. I hate walking into shops to buy clothes. I use the same clothes everyday. I only wear what I feel comfortable in. I prefer neutral clothes – the person should be visible. I can be naked – that’s the real human being. At the same time I’m very vain.
What’s your biggest achievement in life?
What comes first, the architect or artist?
Both equally. In the 70s and 80s you could only be one thing, and it was hard for people to put me in a box. But regardless of the two I’m a thinking human being that sees possibilities, in both small and big constellations. To me everything ties together.