Interview with Henrik Vibskov
Text by Pirita Litmanen
Henrik Vibskov is known for countless things. As a designer and an artist, he has done it all: interior design, installations, movies, songs, clothes, accessories. The list is quite endless. What can you ask him in 15 minutes?
I guess the first question would be; how does he do it?
“I don’t know. I guess I do all these things to keep myself busy. I don’t mean running around. But keeping my mind busy. Challenged. If I’d be doing a cardigan for 10 years in a row, it would become awfully boring, so I decided to take a turn to another direction. I try to break the cycle of daily routine. It’s important in keeping the passion for creating.”
Is it fashion that brings everything together or where is the main focus?
“I originally studied building engineering. Man, that was boring. So I quit. Actually, I didn’t quit, I just stopped showing up. But I do like building things and I think it is the same with clothes. It is just building with a soft material.”
If we look at Vibskov’s calendar, it is filled with projects ranging from set design for Oslo’s opera & ballet to costumes for Björk’s performance. How do all these projects shape up?
“Nothing is very much planned and also very internal, not inviding people in. It is not about collaborating here and there, everything is done in-house.
We don’t need to talk, everybody follows, it is simply much quicker. There is no drama or need to be friendly and do the blah blah blah.
I think that whatever you create has to reflect yourself to be anything meaningful. With a group of 100 people and opinions, it is impossible.”
How did all the people in your team come together?
“Some of them came as interns, some of them were my students, some just knocked on my door. But everybody came in the right time. Suddenly we were missing a production team member and there the person was.”
The man who is doing million things at the same time, lays down inside his 2 meter wide, striped installation wheel, closes his eyes and asks if there is a beach in Helsinki (there is snow on the ground). Just like this particular wheel, he sets up all his projects and exhibitions himself – that must take a lot of travelling, arranging and time?
“Somehow it works out. We work in military style. Plans, decisions, action. I am very straight forward. Mint, spaghetti, a stand, a motor, strings, let’s set it up – go! The thoughts are fast. I am not going away for 2 months to think about it and watch sunsets. It’s like pancakes.”
Henrik Vibskov just referred his work to making pancakes. It does sound easy and steady. How has it been throughout the years? Does the economy and changing trends affect his work?
I think popularity comes in waves. You can be overhyped and that is always followed by silence, naturally. I’ve been always doing very colorful things. Someone once described a very colorfully dressed person as if “Henrik Vibskov just puked on you”. It has been sort of a dark time, not the moment for me to go bright yellow. I don’t think it’s conscious, but you absorb the things around you and all of a sudden dark colors start to look so great.
I think big companies like Acne are much more focused on trends. Bomber jackets and skinny jeans, certain cuts. We always face the problem, that we should find the customer and a bigger audience. But if you are buying skinny jeans, would you buy it from me or would you buy it from Acne? A few times we have tried to do more simple things. Things that don’t look like Henrik Vibskov puked on you. Then people come to tell me they want more colorful stuff.
So in a way I am a bit stuck in a corner. “
What are you working on right now?
“We just moved our studio to the paper island in Copenhagen and we should make a Café there.”
You don’t want to?
“No, I don’t wanna do it, I’m under pressure.
The thing is I really wanted to move into the space but the owners would only rent it out to a café, so I had to convince him that we can do a café!
Finally he gave in and now he is texting me asking when can he has his espresso. We have just been decorating the place but not served a single coffee yet. But it looks amazing.”
Later, I see this tall lean man, being pulled around the colorful exhibition space by a tiny blonde girl. No signs of military style or need for the blah blah blah.