Art and fashion talk Interview to Erik Bjerkesjo Karlstad


Erїk Bjerkesjö, this young Swedish designer, is a tall thin boy with a well-brought up air, a beanpole with a gentle soul. He is also the winner of the latest edition of the “Who is on Next? Uomo 2012” competition. He started out as a creator of shoes and this time round debuted with his first clothing line. He welcomes us on the stand to tell us about his minimal shadowy world, with exceptional grace, his hands dirtied with colour, like a real artisan. 

Tell us about your inspiration.

I basically dream of creating clothes for the icons I admire like Ian Curtis, Basil Rathbone and Adrian Brody. The entire current collection started with my thoughts on these characters, on that sort of aristocratic air in a postmodern sense that surrounds these people. The inspiration is also Italian craftsmanship. I work in Cerreto Guidi, a small town near Florence and I draw on that rich Italian artisan tradition that has been handed down for generations. It is fundamental for me to respect this knowledge to infuse it into my collections. The shoes I make are a sort of neoclassic version of Italian footwear with the addition of my personal touch. 
Explain to us why there are two visible holes in the sides one of the models.
They refer to the two dots in my surname. It is a reference to my family, to my DNA, to my background and I try to show it through my shoes.
In the sixteenth century black used to mean austerity, in the nineteenth century sobriety. What significance does black have in your collection?
I have used this colour to express the solitude of the person in a workshop, a person who has control over what they do, like a writer or a sculptor. Black is that kind of colour that makes a character come alive, gives them personality. Suffice to think of Johnny Cash or Nick Cave, they never change, they dress in black with a style that gives you the shivers. They are men in black that convey a truly serious message and this is a really important objective for me.
In the world of fashion we are currently seeing conflict between baroque and minimalist styles. Why do you prefer the latter?
It think it is due to the fact that I am Swedish. I am attracted by details and as a consequence by a clean-cut minimalist look.
Metal plaques on the heel of the shoes and on the shoulder of a garment. References to a warrior?
I was inspired by the worlds of the samurai and Asia, even in my cut-off trousers. Shoulders are armoured to make man ready for battle. 

What is luxury for you?
Craftsmanship and passion in doing something well done. This is my starting point. My entire life has been dedicated to studying the creation of the best, most interesting things because in Sweden we do not have this artisan tradition, whereas Italy is rich in it. Today many fashion designers are more interested in large-scale production and prefer to produce in Asia. I honestly think that all this is very sad. I prefer quality to fashion.
Do you see yourself as an artist or a real fashion designer?
I want to focus on craftsmanship because I don’t like fashion as it stands. Fashion is too fast; I respect it, but I don’t want to work in a hurry. The fashion designer is too closely linked to the market. In this sense I feel I am more an artist driven by temerity.