Designer of the Day: Kustaa Saksi

The Amsterdam-based designer discusses his penchant for trippy textiles, pastries, and strolling down memory lane.

The Amsterdam-based designer discusses his penchant for trippy textiles, pastries, and strolling down memory lane.

Here, we ask a designer to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their lives.

Age: 42

Occupation: Artist and designer

Hometown: Helsinki

Studio location: Amsterdam

Describe what you make: I make patterns, shapes, and textures that I organize for controlled compositions on a variety of surfaces. I’m interested in visual delusions happening in the borderlands between wakefulness and sleep. The results often take the form of tapestries, rugs, installations, or fabrics.

The most important thing you’ve designed to date: A series of eight large-scale woven tapestries called “Hypnopompic,” a term that refers to the state of sensory confusion upon waking up from sleep. They’ve been featured in galleries and museums around the world, including the Cooper Hewitt.

The problem your work solves: I try to understand chaos in natural forms and translate it into my own visual language. I’m not sure if I’m resolving any problems though. I may just be making things more complicated.

What you are working on now: A series of commissioned pieces for public spaces in Europe and the U.S., and finishing patterns for Marimekko. I’m also experimenting with new weaving techniques here in the Netherlands. It’s a never-ending learning process.

A new or forthcoming project we should know about: Some of my tapestries are on display at the Kunsthall Stavanger in Norway as part of an exhibition called “Systema Naturae,” which is on view until Oct. 15.


What you absolutely have to have in your studio: We’re always arguing about music, which keeps the studio nice and eclectic. The music’s always on, ranging from jazz to Finnish tango, and sixties psychedelia to Cannibal Corpse. I also have a sweet tooth when it comes to cakes and pastries, or basically anything with sugar.

What you do when you’re not working: When off from my studio, I’m usually cycling around the city or hanging around at the zoo with my son, Taito. Amsterdam is definitely best on two wheels. It’s easy to leave the city behind on the bicycle lanes running everywhere.

Sources of creative envy: Plants and animals, Taito, Oliver Sacks, Gunta Stölzl, Josef Frank, Tadanori Yokoo, and David Hockney.

The distraction you want to eliminate: The constant news-feed problem, which feeds me not with inspiration and joy, but utter dullness.

Concrete or marble? Marble. I like the cocky and self-satisfied appearance of the material.

High-rise or townhouse? Townhouse next to a high-rise. For me, it’s ideal to be in the city center but still find way to maintain its history, its coziness, and to keep my slippers by the fireplace.

Aliens or ghosts? Aliens. As they’re probably real, I’d love to meet one, have a drink together, and talk things over.

Remember or forget? Remember. Memory is a great source of inspiration that keeps on giving. I keep forgetting a lot of things in my everyday life, but I love it when smells, sounds, or visual stimuli trigger a trip down memory lane.

Dark or light? Dark. There’s so much more excitement, mystery, and danger after the sunset. Think of bats, night-crawlers, and moths—they know the score.

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