A Flowering Site!

Welcome to this site where you can find

a lot of flowering images from events and

exhibitions designed over the years by

Gunnar Kaj.

gunnar@kaj.se


+46 (0)733 77 88 07

 

Gunnar Kaj

Tegnérlunden 9

SE 111 61 Stockholm

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE IMPACT OF BEAUTY!

Gunnar on what he really does.
by Lasse Hedman
lasse@triptyk.se

When Gunnar Kaj needs to describe what it is he does – really – he has difficulty finding the right expression.
“I am often called a floral designer, but I think that’s too defensive, a bit feeble. I want the result of my work to be more than décor, I want to try and create an artistic expression.”
“Floral artist, perhaps? Although that can be interpreted in many different ways as well...”

Even if it’s tricky to find the right title for him, Gunnar is clear about what he is trying to achieve.
“It’s about the impact of beauty, the beauty must be so striking that it touches the heart. Observers, participants, visitors must be moved, get an experience, a memory. Preferably derived from the impact of beauty!
And nowadays, after thirteen Nobel Prize banquets in a row in the Stockholm City Hall and many other prestigious commissions, most clients know what they are looking for when they contact him.
“Commissioning clients want to lift their function up a level, what I do contributes to the overall impression, the experience and is not simply decorative.”
To achieve this Gunnar works from himself, using his own experience as his basis.
“If it moves you or tears at the heart, it’s working properly!”

For those who have experienced some of his creations, it’s clear that he really has his own form of expression when it comes to arranging flowers, plants, mosses, lichens, branches, fruits, cones... There is obviously an explanation for all this.
”It all began in the mid 1990’s when we were working on the summer house in Roslagen, outside Norrtälje. We planted flower borders and then I picked and arranged and mixed in wild untamed mixtures. Seed heads and pods from last year, dried grasses, branches in bud.”
“Because I wasn’t restricted by any previous training in floral art, I made “mistakes” and combined things which aren’t normally put together. But as a trained art teacher I had knowledge of form and colour and art history, rather than a knowledge of flowers.”
“I started to give away bouquets, did some decorations for functions and bridal bouquets. People around me saw this and gave encouragement. Just at that time my job as an illustrator had begun to feel a bit like a dead-end, my skills had been compartmentalised. There were so many DNA chains...

Nowadays the “flower job” takes up most of Gunnar’s time. The commissions which the public at large have seen the most of are obviously the Nobel Prize banquets held in the Blue Hall at Stockholm City Hall. And the prestigious commission to design the 2008 Christmas stamps! This gave him the opportunity to combine his two professional careers in the same creative work. Stamps are illustrations, but the motive was in fact to be drawn from the real live plant kingdom.

The job requires more than just creative ideas. It also involves real work – planning, sketching, making calculations, ordering, procurement, hiring staff, fetching water, cutting stems, organising lighting, fixing a work table...
“You suddenly realise that you are standing there stressed out and pointing around and not letting your emotions take over. It’s a matter of following your intuition, your gut feeling.”

And then, the motivation – having both the desire and the opportunity to work with living material.
“That’s just the thing, living plants are alive! And withering and dying is an essential part of life just as it is for humans. This means that an arrangement is never static, but constantly changing.”
“I feel affection for flowers, we can identify with them and their little heads and stems. And the petals which are saying “take care of me, look after me”!

photo Yanan Li