Danish furniture designer Mathias Bengtsson is one of a handful of European rising stars to have broken down barriers between fine art and industrial design since the 1990s.
Mathias Bengtsson studied furniture design at the Danish College of Design. From 1992-93, Mathias Bengtsson attended the Art Centre College in Switzerland, then returned to Copenhagen where he formed the design collective known as ‘Panic’ with four other graduates. Panic’s raison d’etre was to give young designers a voice within the Danish furniture industry, and as a result, they succeeded in creating new opportunities. Mathias Bengtsson moved to London in 1996, where he enrolled in the product design course at the Royal College of Art, directed by Ron Arad. After graduating in 1999, Mathias Bengtsson collaborated with fellow Royal College of Art graduates in the design studio called ‘At the 3 Stroke’ then went on to establish his own studio in 2002.
Mathias Bengtsson’s work began gaining acclaim internationally in 1998, when his ‘Slice’ and ‘Homage’ chairs were exhibited at Galleria Post Design in Milan. In 2002, Mathias Bengtsson’s work was presented in the Design by Aluminium exhibition held at the Design Museum in London. In 2003, the British Council featured Mathias Bengtsson’s work in the Great Brits exhibition held in Milan during the Salone del Mobile, which later travelled to Tokyo and Sao Paulo. The plywood version of the Slice chair was acquired by the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston. Philips, the New York Art auctioneers, exhibited and subsequently sold Mathias Bengtsson’s spun carbon-fibre chaise lounge in 2004. The following year, Sweden’s Röhsska Museum held a one-man show of Mathias Bengtsson’s work.
In recent years Mathias Bengtsson has gained acclaim for the materials he’s explored in his quest to redefine the boundaries of design. His point of departure from conventional methods was his decision to treat design as a site of exploration and a basis for research. “My work is often kicked off by the hi-end technology pioneered by the vehicle and aerospace industries,” Mathias Bengtsson explained, “but when I’m working on something, I sketch it by hand and eventually model it in clay. I like experimenting with new design technology, but what interest me most isn’t just what the technology can achieve – it’s the mistakes that are left in the programming. Most designers believe that mistakes are something to be eliminated, but to me, it’s a chance to use technology to create something completely unique.”
It’s typical of Mathias Bengtsson to push the boundaries between form, built structures, materials and technology, and forge unexpected alliances between them. As Mathias Bengtsson builds bridges between the visual, the synthetic, and the natural, his use of materials continues to challenge preconceived notions of what design can mean.
Source: Bradley Quinn, Nordic Reach magazine