Nathalie Schwer

Designer and interior stylist

KOKOON Portraits # 19

At the moment 36-year-old Natalie Schwer prioritizes redefining her work tasks and make them more playful and exploratory.

What turning points helped define who you are today?

Looking back at my childhood, I loved to draw apartments and floor plans on square paper. Playing Barbie, I would build houses only for their husbands to pass away, when it was done. Then she would have to relocate to Paris, in order for me to rebuild it. One of my friends was this elderly architect, who lived on our street. I treasured hanging out at her house flipping through architect books, watching black/white TV and making perfume from rose leaves

Still I feel lucky actually making design my livelihood. I was so scared applying to a design school – I was convinced, I wouldn’t pass the entrance examination, but I got accepted to a design school in Barcelona, and I happened to be really good at it. I graduated as a Room and Furniture designer in 2010

A friend of mine works at an interior company and she began booking me for styling projects. At the same time the people from Kinfolk (magazine, ed.) contacted me, if I would be interested in a collaboration. Suddenly I found myself in the middle of it and it just took off. As a result, I’m at a place right now, where I’m trying to define if the work life I have created is actually the way, I want it to be? It happened in a split second and as a result I now need to take control of the situation. Even though everything is great, I still need to trust my skills and the fact that I got an eye for how things should look right now.

I’m the kind of person, who never feels quite grown-up. Actually, I have never been to a job interview. I sometimes wonder, when I get a call saying: “It’s time Natalie – adult life is waiting for you”. And of course, I’m not serious, when I think being an attorney is more adult than a designer, but I just recognise, that I really feel like creating stuff with my hands as oppose to writing a PhD.

What does a typical work day look like?

My work includes a lot of travelling and logistics, that needs planning. When I start a new collaboration, I always produce a presentation in order to clearly communicate and define as many things as possible to the client. A lot of stylists work more intuitively, but I need to justify my aesthetic choices intellectually and therefore showcase them in a context. I really value the thoughts that go into the process, that quest for the essence, up until I find the material that’s just right. That’s a thing I took with me from the design school in Barcelona.

What does art and culture mean to you?

I’m really preoccupied with the democratic design tradition of Scandinavia. We have had some incredibly talented architects and furniture designers, who produced some beautiful and durable designs, that just keep lasting. I want to be one of them, who help remember this heritage. Even though I’m also part of an industry, that turn interior into fashion – in stages and collections. Not long ago, you had a sofa for 30 years. Now it’s an accessory just like a handbag, that many replace, when they get tired of the material or the colour. Inevitably, this is not suitable, neither for the planet nor for our wallet. One has to draw the line at how ridiculous and useless the products become. I think, it’s really sad, the way we fill our lives with stuff, we don’t need in order to feel anything.

What’s on your mind these days?

The climate. Just the other day, I read an article in Politiken (Danish newspaper, ed.) about super markets buying less in order to reduce food waste. The article had a negative view saying consumers inevitably may not find what they are looking for. But this is really the only way to do it. We need to stop our excessive consumption and get used to a limited selection of produce. Enjoy something else and remember how lucky you are! In Scandinavia – and the majority of Western Europe – it’s an incorporated part of our culture, that we have everything on hand.

What does gender mean to you?

I have been a feminist for many years. Back when nobody cared for it. Now a days everyone is trooping around in a T-shirt with the text The Future is Female. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it gets so trivial, when people have to flaunt themselves through slogans, vegetarianism, green tea and yoga. The focus is on our own individual identity projects, that we keep constructing. The overall responsibility of our generation is to produce a new solidarity and thereby a new sense of community – something we have been exceptional bad at so far. I would love, if we began focusing on the common good, instead of talking about all the cups of matcha tea, we brew, and all the Downward-Facing Dog poses we benefit from.

What annoys you?

I have a problem with people who only look after their own interests. Conflicts are easy, but it’s difficult to embrace each other for better or worse

When do you feel most challenged?

I’m always worried if I perform. And in many situations, I would benefit from a more relaxed mindset. And get better at critique. I take things so seriously.

What’s important to you?

My closets relations. At the moment it’s important for me to learn to be a human being. My mother is sick, and I would love children of my own at one point. Now is the time to step up and become an adult and a human being. To look after my mother, whenever she needs it and accept, that I’m no longer the small one. I’m about to learn to take more responsibility.

Lindberg's ladies. Much love for his way of portraying us women Super interested in old school textile patterns at the moment 
Encens - favourite magazine I love Sally Mann’s fascination with America’s deep South
Love the 1990's campaigns for Jil Sander Favourite couch by Mario Bellini

Just had the pleasure of working with Helena Emman’s handmade spoons and I love them Favourite portrait - Georgia O’Keeffe in her home in Marpha

Irving Penn’s awesome corner portraits Dining chairs by Joaquim Tenreiro from the 1960’s