The way Knutson digests the world is through his abstract drawings. He always carries a sketchpad along with him wherever he goes. “His drawing practice is refreshing in a design world dominated by 3D printing and digital production. In the exhibition, we showed his drawings as an essential part of the process”, Bellavance-Lecompte says. “With his drawings, Knutson goes back to basics, while at the same time he’s very adept at communication as well as research and technology. And when it comes to creating, he does so with his own hands.” Knutson nods and adds, “Through drawing, which is something very raw, I look at what we’re missing if we only rely on technology to shape objects and reality.” The drawings inspire him to make objects. This inspiration can be anything – images, a beautiful tree, or industrial landscapes. “In any case, I draw a lot. And I view all my drawings as a whole. I can’t just copy a drawing and make the ob- ject based on only one. It’s more like inspi- ration – I try to connect drawing to crafts; my aim is to find immediate ways of working with materials.”
Whether or not he stirred up agitation with his peculiar work in the chaotic, sparkling, cosmopolitan, trilingual, war-fucked Beirut, we wonder how probable it is that he’ll shake up visitors in the calm, prosperous, decent, middle-class, mono-cultural, well-organised Oslo, where he will soon have an exhibition. Knutson: “The design scene in Beirut is very different from what I am used to and what I am doing. Quite a big part of it here is about expensive, flashy materials in coated bronze, precious stone, and the like, while I use completely inexpensive materials. You don’t need to do much to make a piece of gold look precious. With a low-cost material you have to be more inspired to make it look valuable. Many people visiting the show at Carwan Gallery were intrigued, apparently. Of course, the reputation of Design Academy Eindhoven is always a good starting point, as it is known to educate makers who tell personal stories through design. I guess that’s what I am doing.” Bellavance-Lecompte enthuses: “Sigve Knutsen’s work has this power to completely mesmerise visitors. Forget what you were thinking about design so far. You have to start again, reset your ideas!”
According to Bellavance-Lecompte, Knutson has been introduced to Middle Eastern culture in the leading design city in the region. “Dubai tried, but never reached this level.”
Drawing Objects is at Carwan Gallery, Beirut, until 14 July 2017.
Drawing Objects is at Galleri Format in Oslo, 17 August – 10 September 2017.