Based in Stockholm, Cathy Nordström is a Swedish designer that blends her talent as a textile artist to create a world of beautiful patterns and a highly successful home textile brand. With a design style well anchored in the Scandinavian tradition, combined with a strong focus on craftsmanship, she creates beautiful wallpapers and quality home textile.
Exquisite patterns, elevated print techniques, colorful mixed patterns and elegance are her signature. Committed to sustainable production, her designs are hand printed and produced locally in Sweden.
Cathy, who are you? You are a based in Sweden designer. Can you please talk a little bit more about your artistic and design paths? Was being a textile designer a vocation from the very first moment, or the result of a process?
I’m a mother of three. Married to the best guy in the world. Dog mum. Swedish textile designer. Being a textile designer was never a plan, I didn’t really know this profession existed.
I always knew I was going to study design in some way, but it wasn’t clear exactly what.
After high school I moved to France to study French and after that I studied history of Art followed by a foundation course in design in London. I grew interested in print and packing design and applied to a Berghs School of Design in Stockholm where I received a degree in graphic design. Even though I love and really appreciate good graphic design, my heart was never in it. And certainly not advertising, haha. Oh, I thought the whole advertising industry was horrible and chauvinistic. I had always loved textiles and the beauty of different craftsmanship from around the world.
Fast forward I discovered pattern design and instantly knew I was home. After a few years of selling and licensing my patterns I felt a disconnection to my work. A lot of my designs where licensed to high street brands and I just couldn’t be proud of my work. I wanted to be part of the process. I wanted to design patterns that I wanted in my own home. Produced in Sweden, ethically and sustainable. So I took a big leap and started my namesake textile brand for home décor, with fabrics and wallpapers made in Sweden.
Your design work includes textiles, wall papers and even rugs. What is your creative process?
I constantly gather inspiration, both physical and digital. Pinterest is a great source but I really enjoy books and museums the most. When I am about to create a new pattern I go back into my inspiration catalogue and create a moodboard for the new design. After that I start sketching on paper, before digitalizing it and finalizing the pattern and repeat in illustrator. Some pattern are quick, some take months.
You also run a business and a brand. How did you start?
I touched a bit on this before but yes, running a brand, a web shop, selling to trade and interior designers all over the world and also running a showroom in central Stockholm actually leaves little time for designing. But I actually love it this way. I love every part of running a business, I was never the designer who only loved drawing. I love the production part, marketing, sales and customer relations. So much is new, I had never sold products before. Never run a brand or a business like this. I’m still learning every day and make sure to surround myself with people that now their bit.
You also produce locally in Sweden. How important is it for you to work with craftsmanship and local producers?
Extremely important. This is the core of my brand and I honestly don’t know what I would do without my amazing factories and the people working there.
Your vision about sustainability and ethics?
For me sustainability is not only about how we produce but where. So many Swedish factories have had to fold because brands have chosen to place their production in countries where it is cheaper. For obvious reasons..
The knowledge and skills of these men and women and Swedish heritage down the drain. It’s just heartbreaking. So if I can help just a little bit by choosing to place my production in Swedish factories with a history, I see that as a kind of sustainability too. Production is slower. It’s production with intent, love and respect for the people doing it for a living.
I love your colorful and delicate patterns, how you mix and match them. What is your inspiration when coming to design? Do you feel rooted to the Scandinavian design heritage as well as the English one?
I definitely find much of my inspiration in Swedish textiles, especially vintage flatweave rugs as those my Märta Måås-Fjetterström, Barbro Nilsson and Marianne Richter. But also Swedish textile designer like Elsa Gullberg. A lot of my inspiration comes from museums and ancient ceramics. When it comes to patterns, interior design and color I am everything but typical Scandinavian. But the style that historically is referred to as Scandi is also changing. Just look as the Danes and their colorful designs. Personally I love the English way of layering textiles, it adds warmth and character in a way that Swedes are yet to master.
Where do you nurture your soul and creativity?
When traveling and exploring new places and cultures. This is when I really feel alive, open and curious.
But I also nurture my soul with music, books and good company. With age my need for rest and peace and quiet has grown, I don’t have the need to be social all the time. My favorite place to breathe is in the small fishing town in southern Sweden where we have a summer house. The wind, landscape and sea makes me unwind and refill. As for countries abroad I will always have a soft spot for France and the French language.
What makes you feel truly happy? And what brings you growth in life?
So many things make me happy. First and foremost my family, friends and my dog. Music makes me happy, there is always music playing in the Nordstrom household and in the car. Color, textiles, travel, the ocean, the tv-series Friends, Jack Black, flowers, Harry Styles. People doing their own thing. Women throughout history who paved the way for my generation. Sonia Delauney, Märta Måås-Fjetterström, Gabriella Crespi and so so so many female design icons.
What brings you growth? Failure. Definitely failure. How else are we supposed to learn from our mistakes and grow?
Your relationship with Nature?
Nature keeps me sane. Gives me butterflies and a feeling of freedom and joy I rarely come across otherwise.
I grew up in Stockholm with close access to the ocean and today I am back in Stockholm with the ocean close to home again. We spend our summers on the coast in southern Sweden, a place where it is always windy. You feel alive there, haha. As a child the forest was never a part of my upbringing even if we lived so close. It was always the archipelago or southern Sweden where the landscape is very open and flat. As an adult I have come to love the forest and appreciate the silence. But I am still a coastal girl in my heart.
Your relationship with Fashion?
I like how fashion can enhance my mood. How it can both comfort and sooth or pick me up. Sometimes I just feel like wearing black, like I couldn’t care less or bother. Black is elegant and safe. I live in Sweden, it’s winter and dark almost 6 months a year. Hard to wear colorful and bold clothes and also deal with snow and icey streets. But I feel like myself when I wear color. Wintertime I don’t really wear prints. But spring and summer I want to wear pattern and color every day. It’s really a testament of how I feel!
Your next creative steps? What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to my launch of a new collection with the UK interior designer Nina Litchfield Studios in London and I can’t wait. My next step for my brand is to continue to grow organically and increase sales and still stay on course. I am also taking a course in business economics! Even though I hate math and am really bad at it, you can’t really hate numbers when running your own brand. Thank god I have very smart people who help me with this part of my business, but I want to understand what they are talking about… 😉
What do you recommend when coming to Home decoration?
Don’t take it too seriously, it’s only home decoration! You can always repaint a room. Better to be bold. Choose with your heart and gut. An let it take time.
What do you want to stand for.
Honesty, empathy and kindness. I do not like people who lie and cheat their way through life. Everyone fucks up from time to time, it’s how you handle it that defines who you are. Be kind. It’s really not that hard.
Florenz’s collection in a few words?
Super soft, tailored, colorful, sustainable and high quality.