For this Tastemaker feature we talk to Katarina Matsson, the Swedish journalist specialising in design whose vibrant interior decor and ever-changing gallery walls have captured the internet’s attention.
As an art lover and undeniable tastemaker we invited her to become a member of our Artist Open Call selection committee, where she helped us unearth our roster of 23 winners, bringing new and exciting art that “offer both comfort and joy, beauty and humour”.
Here we chat with Katarina about curating a personal and diverse art collection guided by her feelings, the parts of her job that enable her to be most creative, and her latest renovation project, a 1926 missionary chapel.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started in the art and design world.
Well, I think I've always been fascinated by art and literature and how they are doors to other worlds and into ourselves (even if as a kid I didn't quite realise that was the pull). I studied art history at university in my early 20s but went on to become a journalist. It was in the 2000s when fashion was the cultural zeitgeist, but since all creative expressions are connected – more and more so I think! – I came back into design and art via the catwalk, so to speak.
Which aspect of your work enables you to be the most creative?
I guess that at the core of being a journalist lies the ambition of understanding our world. Applying that approach to the fields of art and design, and connecting these subjects to what is going on in society, is a very creative process. In a more practical sense, I’m feeling very creative while starting my own brand, focusing on collectible design, with my old friend turned business partner Magda Marnell (@matssonmarnell). Launching soon!
You describe yourself as an ‘emotional decorator’, what feelings guide your art purchases?
When I buy art for myself and our home I’m drawn to pieces that tickle my fantasy, whether abstract or figurative. Again, it's that connection, sort of beyond words, to our inner selves, or our inner worlds, that gets me. I also love to collect pieces by friends or artists I've found on Instagram, or paintings from flea markets all over the world. That gives this double, emotional connection.
Your ever-evolving art-filled home has become an Instagram sensation, what are your tips for curating a personal and diverse art collection?
1) Just start! The idea of art might be overwhelming, it's traditionally a very closed world, guided by elite gatekeepers and an economic system outside of ordinary society. Ignore all this. Go to the museums and galleries, see what you're drawn to, and find your taste. I love Partnership Editions for making art accessible and approachable. It's a great place when you're ready to invest in your first piece.
2) I prefer originals and limited editions. I want to feel the artist in the piece. It also makes each piece so much more valuable to me. Of course, if your means are limited, posters are a great option, but I'm also inspired by artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe or Andy Goldsworthy to bring nature inside, in the shape of beautiful stones, etc.
3) Let it take time. Your taste will grow stronger with time, and hopefully your wallet too. I see my art collection as a life project, an investment in my everyday joy rather than in my future bank account. That's why I also have no problem mixing my kids' pre-k drawings with more expensive works.
What was the first artwork in your art collection and what is the most precious one to you?
One of the first original pieces I bought, which is still a favorite of mine, was a black and white piece by Malin Gabriella Nordin (@malingabriella). I've noticed that it's also the one piece I get the most questions about on Instagram, along with our amazing and monumental Ditte Ejlerskov (@ditte_ejlerskov) piece.
We can’t wait to follow your steps as you renovate and decorate the wonderful 1926 missionary chapel 1.5 hours from Stockholm. How do you approach such a special project? Where do you go for inspiration?
One thing that's important to me in decorating my home, and our new countryside chapel (I still can't believe it!) is to create a mood that is sort of 'outside time and space'. That there are layers of now and then, here and there, and this to me creates a very soothing atmosphere.
For the chapel, I’m inspired by a combination of British cottage/arts & crafts and Italian palazzo along with traditional Swedish allmoge, and a touch of Danish eclectic modernism (think The Apartment). We're letting it take time, so let's see where we end up.
What is a question you wish people asked you more?
How much can we pay you?
Current song on repeat? ”Mörkgröna älven” by Sara Parkman featuring Markus Krunegård.
Your muse? Hilma af Klint
Perfect day? Slow breakfast, fresh run, quick bike ride, thought-provoking exhibition, interesting dinner, fun dance floor.