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At Studio Greiling: "Drei" pendant lamp by the designer.

Known for designs with a functionalist aesthetic and poetic perspective, Katrin Greiling is drawn to cultural adventures and experimenting with new technology. The multidisciplinary designer discusses the changing relationship between handcraft and technology, and shares her angle on minimalism.

Five words that best describe you and the work you do?

Analytic, colourful, engaging, functional, and confounding.

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At Studio Greiling: colour and texture mood board.

Can you identify a common thread in your work, a theme that ties the different projects together?

I studied furniture design and interior architecture. In the beginning I didn’t really want to deal with interior architecture but figuring out that the room actually is the reason why you have objects so it was good to understand the room because then you can understand the products as well. Then there is photography as well which I think of as my perfect triangle. I couldn’t be without any of them!

I think the common thread is just curiosity. Everywhere we go there is something to discover, cultural explorations that you can do in society in Sweden or Germany or Indonesia or Japan or wherever you are. When you know your roots well you can see the differences. This was super interesting for me in Dubai or Indonesia, being this cultural explorer. It doesn’t matter in what discipline; it’s about having curiosity and not being scared of anything. I’m driven to explore and tackle any theme or topic.

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LESSRIM optical glasses KAYO in Silver/Champagne Gold.

How important is handcraft in your work?

My designs don’t really carry the language of craft; design for me is something that is created to be mass-produced. But it’s a question I think about: How to make objects in industrial production and still have these traces of craft. My background is in woodcraft. It was an entrance to design and understanding construction. As a designer you need to know how something is made whether industrial or by hand. I’m always trying to translate a craft language into an industrial product. So this knowledge sits inside me and I try to translate it. So this shelf here ("Bow Shelf") is a form of structural engineering translated into metal.

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At Studio Greiling: "Longarm" stand by the designer.

How important is technology in your work?

I think we have to deeply understand the technology to know how to create things. To be able to use the failure within technology in design is interesting to me – to incorporate the traces of technology in design in a similar way that handcraft leaves a signature.

I think we are at a really interesting point with 3D printing. We have the technology but we still have to figure out how to really use it. We are still using it in a very basic way, but I believe there is another step out there to turn it into a stylistic device. Getting away from perfection to imperfection, because perfection is not really what we want. I’ve been working on a project using 3D printing with my students and I’m enjoying figuring out the depths and the possibilities of it. It’s a program like AutoCAD – you can’t let it limit you. You need to be smart enough to tweak the program.

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Personal objects of the designer at Studio Greiling.

What does minimalism mean to you – would you describe your work as minimalist?

I was educated in this minimal tradition. I mean, functionalism was driven by industry to make things more rational; less work hours to produce something meant objects became more affordable. I’m coming from what I would call a functionalist perspective. If you haven’t solved the function then the design doesn’t make any sense.

When I moved from Stockholm to Dubai I was in a different world where ornaments played a completely different role than in Sweden. And it was a challenge for me to adjust myself in that. I made objects that were not functional but beautiful but still have the functional language, like this bracelet that was inspired by a cheap watch that I had, a Casio. The bracelet has no watch function at all, but the function is in the value of the material; the money I could get if I had it melted. So, I switched the function. It’s not a watch anymore it just reminds me of a watch.

I also created this Bedouin sofa series using rope to put it together yet in a decorative way. I could not have done that in Sweden because I would have had too many struggles with questions like, what is minimalist, what’s functional, is that necessary or not, can I afford being decorative? For me, it is also a cultural reference back to the Chesterfield sofa. The rope does go all the way through, it is keeping it all together.

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Katrin Greiling wearing LESSRIM optical model KAYO in Silver/Champagne Gold.

Is there anything in your life that is ‘maximalist’?

Colour, I’m really excessive with colour. My latest project is with Kvadrat. Everything is pretty colourful

Do have an impulse to ‘reinvent’ the things around you?

Hmmm… It’s not an easy question right now as I’m working on a project around the topic ‘household chores’. It’s everything and nothing. Especially when you look at salt and pepper shakers – it’s all so well done already! I’m at a point where I’m thinking: can I even make it any better? Of course life goes on and we are inventing new categories. So yeah, I’m wrestling with this question right now…


For more information about Studio Greiling, visit

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