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One to Watch: Line Nilsen

We speak to textile maker and hothouse17 one to watch Line Nilsen

Line Nilsen is a Norwegian born designer specialising in woven textiles, working with various materials, including leather. Her approach places time, effort and quality at the fore, believing this is essential to good design. 

Line has been selected for Hothouse, the Crafts Council's Talent Development Programme for emerging makers. Find out more about Hothouse

What first got you interested in making?

I can’t remember not being interested in making; it feels like second nature to me. My upbringing was very free, and creativity was encouraged. Both my mum and my dad are creative, and my siblings and I very naturally followed the same path.

Making was a way of solving a problem; if I needed or wanted something, I would make it. Creating was the easiest way to satisfy my curiosity or aid my needs and desires. When I realised I was good at making things there was no going back, so I continued to challenge myself to make something just that little bit better the next time.

weave 1. Photo: Line Nilsen

What in particular drew you to textiles?

Textiles has grown on me very organically since my childhood; I think my mum was a huge influence. I began making clothes in my teens, which sparked an interest and this grew even stronger when I did my tailoring apprenticeship. I started studying textiles with the intention of making only fashion textiles, but once I started learning, and especially learning about weaving, I became so fascinated with it that I just wanted to be the person who makes the textiles, regardless what its use and purpose would be.

Where have you shown or sold your work so far?

I haven't done many shows yet, my business is still very new and I am hoping Hothouse will help me find a wider audience for my bespoke work. Most of my interest so far comes from old connections, word of mouth and social media. My weaves are viewable by appointment and I currently work on commission projects or collaborations, more details are available on my website. I will also be selling limited edition ranges of home and fashion accessories from my website in the near future.

Which project are you most proud of so far and why?

It’s a tie; there are two projects I especially like. The first is my collection with woven leather. It is elegant, unique and was fun to make - although you have to be very patient, as it is the most time consuming process to cut the leather by hand. The woven leather is by far my most recognisable work; it looks great, it is super artisanal and works very well for such a variety of projects. 

The second project would be my woven garments, a kind of zero waste project that was very Japanese inspired and which challenged me technically.

Each garment was woven on the loom, they were very elegant and it was fun to make the actual end product.

How does your homeland of Norway influence the work and why?

My work often has a minimal and functional undertone, which is very typically Scandinavian. When I design, I am inspired by a vast mix of styles and cultures which doesn't always have direct reference to Norway.  But my open-minded approach probably stems from my Norwegian roots. I’ve moved around a bit and I consider myself a citizen of the world, who draws from the cultural variety my life has offered me.
Woven Textiles. Photo Line Nilsen

What do you hope to get from Hothouse?

I feel so lucky to have been selected for Hothouse 2017. I hope the programme will help me bring clarity and direction to my practice, that I can learn from, and be inspired by, other crafts businesses. I hope to meet like-minded people who wish to share their knowledge and experiences to help others.

I have been working in the textile industry for some years, but running your own business is a whole new chapter that requires a different approach. I am at the perfect place in my life to take on this challenge and it’s therefore so important to be in contact with other small start-ups, as well as more experienced creative business entrepreneurs, in order to find the right path.

You say that your focus is on quality and effort. Why do you think that these values are important in the modern world?

I think the modern world is a very mixed world. Everything is available to us, at any time. As a craftsman, you automatically revert back to a traditional way of trading; it sparks genuine excitement, trust and appreciation in people. These are values I think it is crucial to be reminded of. I believe handmade goods are a wonderful way to connect with people. I personally like the interaction between me as a maker and those who use my woven textiles in their work, and it is rewarding seeing what people do with the pieces and where they end up.

You have a background in men's tailoring, how has this informed your own practice?

My tailoring degree was an incredible experience; I managed to get an apprenticeship with T- Michael, who is such a wise man and mentor. It opened my eyes to attention to detail, quality, patience and perseverance. I became fascinated with understanding all the skills of a trade and having the ability to make something from scratch with one pair of hands. It also inspired me to want to be my own boss someday, but I knew I wanted to learn as much as possible before setting up my own business.

How and why does your approach differ depending whether you are doing a fashion or interior project?

When I create for myself my approach doesn’t change much. I tend to make what I feel like at that particular time and it quickly becomes apparent if it is better suited to one or the other – or sometimes even both. If I am working freelance, on a set brief for a commission or a collaboration, the process is very different and I consider my customers’ needs carefully before starting the development. I’ll often begin with my library of samples, an idea or a mood and I’ll then play around with materials and techniques to set off the creative process.

You can see more work from Line and follow her at the Crafts Council Directory

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