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NID is a platform for Estonian and Finnish designers. Let’s start from the beginning – my name’s Bartek Fetysz and I am representing KEIN Magazine. Who are you and what are your positions in the company?
Kät: Hi, I am Kät. It is hard to position my role. We all do basically everything that needs to be done in order to keep a small organization together. Recently I have been more a “tech” person - setting up our new website and online store and trying to mingle in the world of social media. Originally though, I am one of the co-founders and curators of NID.
Triin: I am Triin, one of the co-founders of NID. Actually, we have no hierarchy… it´s our common project and we all want to give our best. There’s always something to do and we are trying to contribute equally. As Kät mentioned, she is having her IT-period now, I was a “text generator” for a while, probably because of my art history studies. However, it changes, we are real multitaskers.
Maris: Hello, I am Maris, as a product designer myself I love discovering fresh, innovative ideas and young designers. It's a pleasure to meet them and see how they create or make their own projects. Paris has an eclectic design scene but I can tell that Parisians appreciate minimalist Nordic design so we are trying to find those new talents.2 / 17
Does NID have any meaning? Code?
Kät: NID comes from a French word and it means “nest” and is something what we’ve been creating during these few years - a nest for Estonian designers in Paris. Hey, and it simply sounds nice!
Maris: I also like to think of NID as Nordic IDentity, even though selected designs are all unique they have a similar DNA.
Triin: In the beginning we were thinking about Nordic Innovative Design, but finally we found it rather limiting, because we also love simple and timeless solutions.
Where are you from and how did you end up in Paris?
Kät: An Estonian living in London at the moment. After finishing my studies in textile, I moved to Paris, where soon after, we started working on this project.
Triin: I’m also Estonian. Actually in my case it was rather a hazard that I ended up in Paris. It could have been any other country. After the first year of my Master Studies I’ve decided to spend a year abroad as an Erasmus student. I did not plan to stay here, actually I wanted to go back to Estonia, but life had other plans for me.
Maris: Originally from Estonia, I have been studying and working between Paris and Tallinn for 8 years now. This city is really inspirational for artists and designers, however, I love to work with NID - it gives me chance to reconnect with my Nordic roots and travel more often to Estonia, Finland and hopefully other Nordic countries soon.3 / 17
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How would you describe your home? What’s Estonia like?
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Maris: Estonia is an interesting mix of a digital, fast developing society with people who are still really close to the nature. We love going to the forest, picking mushrooms and camping around a fire. However, we have to stay connected. There is a trend of city dwellers moving to the countryside and working from there via internet and skype. There is a lot of innovation and many e-services like e-voting, e-taxes and e-health.
Being an immigrant is very common but each country has its own flaws. Why have you picked France? Paris?
Kät: It just happened. I never imagined myself living in Paris and it took a while before I got used to it – it’s a harsh city to blend in, especially for someone who doesn’t speak the language. I still don’t speak good French, but I love to come back here as often I can. I consider it as my second home now.
Triin: Yes, Paris has its own charm but its Administration and Bureaucracy (yes, with capitals, for me these two are real living monsters who want to eat me alive) make things quite slow and complicated. But when you escape from the city from time to time, it's always nice to come back.
Maris: Paris can be a bit controversial - everybody seems really busy, but if you want something to be done, it can take you weeks. Especially when Estonia's tech scene is developing rapidly and we can basically do everything via internet.
Why have you decided to create your platform?
Kät: Coincidence and same interests probably?! We grew up in the same city in Estonia with Triin, after 10 years or so, we met again in Paris and ended up working together in customer service. We both wanted to start our own business. I guess, due our art and textiles background it was rather obvious to choose design as something to work with. Also, Estonian design has not been recognized enough and we wanted to be a part of changing this. While planning our first showroom, we met Maris, who’s a product designer and who had been studying and living in Paris. She was enthusiastic about the idea and decided to help us with our unknown big plans at that time. Now, there are 3 of us behind NID including many other great assistants we have from time to time. This small idea of ours has turned into a collective and we have busy times coming ahead: curating Jewellery exhibition during Paris Design Week and organising a grand exhibition at Cite de la Mode et Design in December - dedicated to Estonian design and culture - and of course the launch of our online store.
What was the hardest part in your journey?
Triin: The hardest moments are always before the exhibition openings. As we have to manage everything, there is a lot of stress because of the huge responsibility. I remember so clearly how I was still preparing Estonian snacks in my kitchen when the vernissage had already started. Previously we had spent the whole week building and painting the stand for the exhibition - without really believing that we could have get everything done for the right day. When I finally arrived to the opening party, it came out that there were some problems with the sound system we rented for the musician. I was not able to give a speech, because it felt like running a marathon. At that moment I told myself that I will never ever do it again. And after few months we started making plans for the next exhibition. So it seems like we cannot live without it anymore, it has become some kind of addiction.6 / 17
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What is so special in Nordic art?
Kät: When I think Nordic I think of lots of space. We love quietness and closeness with nature. It also reveals in the art and design of this region. Despite the fact that we will never be considered as a part of the “Nordic”, we still have the same characteristics as we belong geographically under the same region and climate.
Triin: For me as well it´s all about the nature. There is some special light and calm. Nature is a powerful source of inspiration and we have a special respect for it. What I like about Estonia, is that even in the city you don’t feel like you’d be really in the city. There are always parks around. Sometimes when we are in Estonia during the summertime and we are trying to meet some designers, it´s quite tricky to “catch” them because one is living or spending time in one forest while another designer in a different one…
Maris: I love the simplicity and minimalism of Nordic design, it's often about functionality and the function creates the form. Using natural materials makes them long lasting.8 / 17
What an artist has to have to be selected and presented by you? I imagine you are quite picky.
Kät: We have a specific taste, that’s true. I believe that everything you create should not qualify under the “design” term - for me it has to have a purpose, function, visual aesthetics etc. We find it important to support young, independent and unknown artists and designers. It’s our key factor.
Triin: When choosing designers, we always gather together. Every one of us speaks up her mind. It's rare when we do compromises. We trust our intuition – there’s no deep analysis or market research behind our selection.
Maris: We all have been living in Paris and London for a while and thanks to this we look at the Nordic design scene from the outside, with a healthy distance. It makes it easier to recognize new talents and products that stand out.
Name a couple of artists that you represent and explain why they are so special that you do believe in their talent.
Kät: For example, the work of Annike Laigo - it's subtle and timeless. She started out as a textile designer, but is now working in various disciplines. Everything she creates is handmade or developed through a collaboration. Her designs are just well-made, well thought, great looking and functional. I think that in the world of overconsumption, this matters a lot! There is a ceramist, Mariana Laan, whom we represent and whose work we are very fond of. What is special about her, is the choice of the materials: she likes to mix concrete or heavy glass with porcelain. The result is modern and chic. She keeps experimenting, so we are looking forward to see what she will do next.
Also our co-curator for this year, Darja Popolitova, has an unique angle in her work - playing with materials, often up-cycling and deforming the original substance - her jewelry is always quite conceptual. I guess we like designers with a strong identity or a potential for that and of course we look for something that would really stand out and surprise us.9 / 17
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What pieces can you find in your showroom or on your platform? Is it fashion? Furniture? Paintings?
Kät: NID has generally a focus on design, specifically product design, but we somehow decided to showcase something more art-like and experimental this September - we will exhibit jewellery. The work that we are showing is still very close to product design, but the concept and the origin of the materials make them unique, especially as some of them are one off pieces.
Triin: On our web store, we are focused on the home accessories, but we take a bit more freedom when organizing temporary pop-up showrooms. I am excited about the upcoming jewellery exhibition. I admire how the artists are playing with the borders of art and design and how they are experimenting with materials. For example, we are displaying jewellery from mushrooms and old crystal vases. How amazing is that!
Maris: It's exciting not to have limits and be able to explore different fields of art and design with every exhibition, for example, last year we exhibited Estonian and Finnish ceramists.11 / 17
Is it easy to become a part of Paris Design Week? What budget do you need to have to show your pieces there?
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Kät: It is not so difficult to be a part of it, you just need to be able to cover the costs. For all of our exhibitions, we got support from our government and from the grants they offer for projects abroad. I personally feel lucky to come from a smaller country: Estonia is quite supportive in that sense. Budget? The main expenses cover the participation fees, gallery space, transportation, advertisement, building up the showroom etc. Honestly - it is not cheap, but we have managed so far thanks to our partners and the grants. It also helps a lot, if you get some local partners.
Triin: First, you have to be approved by the PDW team. Nevertheless, when you have a good concept, it´s not difficult. For small organisation indeed, it is expensive, but I think it´s vitally important for designers to participate in international exhibitions.
Maris: It's probably more difficult for designers who are on their own, but as we represent a whole group of people it's easier to raise funds and find sponsors.
Where do you hope your project will take you? What are your goals? Aspirations?
Kät: At the moment NID is sort of a side project next to our everyday jobs, but we would be all very keen if our collective would become our main priority and business. Regular exhibitions and showrooms, opening our own little studio in Paris and London would be something to achieve in these few years. I know for sure, we are all working hard towards this goal!
Triin: I am dreaming about that day when NID will be my one and the only job. In today's world it´s a real luxury when you can do what you love. In this sense, I think our aim is 100% of pure love.
Maris: I totally agree with you, let's make NID happen!
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Interview by Bartek Fetysz
PARIS DESIGN WEEK 8/9 - 16/9
NID is located in Galerie Résidences
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