First of all, we’d like to know more about you. Who is Beate Karlsson?
Big question! I am an energetic person who has always been driven by creativity and trying new ways of looking at aesthetics. I also made a lot of music when I was little. Those are the two things I’ve been playing around with – making music and art, wearable crafts. I grew up in Stockholm with two sisters who are also very creative. And then I moved to New York when I was 19 to start studying fashion at Parsons, which was a teenage dream. At that time, my personality was based on ‘art or nothing’ – I felt I had to be extreme and dedicate all my time to it if I wanted to pursue a career in this field. But since then, I’ve had to work on balancing it, because it’s not fun when this job becomes your whole life.
“I think we’re still navigating into what kind of brand we want to be, and specifically how we connect our values and our creative source to also being a business.” – Beate Karlsson
You are originally Swedish, but you are currently based in Florence. What took you to Italy?
When COVID happened, I was still working in New York. But everyone started working from home and it didn’t make sense for me to stay there, so I moved to Stockholm. And then, after some visa issues with one of my jobs in New York, I joined the founders of Avavav through a friend. They were looking for a new creative to lead for the brand’s design team. It was very spontaneous at first, while I was still in Stockholm, but then they asked me if I wanted to come down to Italy. I started as a freelancing designer, but I was very clear with them that I wanted to put my designs into the brand, because I didn’t like the aesthetics of it at the time.
For those who don’t know Avavav, how would you present the brand?
I think we’re still navigating into what kind of brand we want to be, and specifically how we connect our values and our creative source to also being a business. It was founded in Florence because there are a lot of deadstock opportunities. And that has been a main part of us. We want to do something sustainable. Also, when I came in, we went into more extreme design. To me, producing in a way where we don’t leave a big footprint on the planet and not having limits for what design can be are the basics. You need to have a very straightforward strategy because you need to sell the pieces and not just become art.
“If I want to be a designer, I want to better the quality of the product, or at least it needs to be something that you haven’t seen on the market yet. Otherwise, it’s just set up for creating waste.” – Beate Karlsson