SWEDEN WHITE MINIMALISM OR DESIGNER FANTASIES
Interview for Postimees RUS
LIFE-HOLIDAY-CREATIVITY: NATALIA AND JANEK ELJAS IN THE INTERIOR OF THEIR SALON.
Look at your home through the eyes of a random guest. What sofa do you sit on in the living room, what chairs are around your dining table? In what style is the interior decorated, and does it have any style at all, or is it just an average apartment that immediately looks like everything that is displayed on the real estate sales portal? Or maybe your small-sized panel is full of baroque or, God forbid, rococo furniture? It is possible that these are even originals, only you don’t know about it … Although they say that they don’t argue about tastes, they argue about them just as much as this expression that came from medieval scholasticism exists.
Mida, kus, kui palju.
As the famous Estonian designer Mati Sirkel said, the main thing is the harmony of the interior and its owner. If you feel good in Scandinavian gray or, conversely, in a crazy interior where the Hatter and the March Hare had a tea party, then so be it. And the guests will suffer. Furniture in Tallinn is sold in darkness and darkness: inexpensive products of little-known Eastern European firms, IKEA cabinets popular all over the world, solid luxury of Italian manufacturers… Yes, walk along our unofficial design street, Pärnu Highway, from one viaduct to another – you will not see anything! The apogee of the walk will be the Aatrium department store in Järve, where a variety of furniture is collected on several floors. There are also huge warehouses, if not real antiques, then skillfully stylized antique items. For furnishing specific interiors, for example, a country house, you can pay attention to shops like Sõbralt sõbrale, where, quite by chance, you can buy unique pieces of rustic Swedish furniture made of natural wood, or even a huge painted chest, not to mention chairs, hangers and various Scandinavian trifles. In a word, a person who wants to furnish an apartment has a place to roam, wherever he goes in accordance with his taste and the size of his wallet. There are people among us who prefer something special, unique, sometimes provocative. They are willing to pay big money to buy real designer furniture.
FAMILY OF CREATORS
Natalja and Janek Eljas are that happy example of a creative family, when one spouse complements the other, when both do the same thing, but do not compete with each other, as, for example, happens in acting families. Natalia is an interior designer, restorer, artist. Janek is a furniture designer, carpenter. They are like two hands of one creator. On the furniture of Natalia and Janek there is their brand name: Color Life. And in Põhja-Tallinn there is a salon in which, according to the name, such bright and cheerful objects are exhibited that you don’t know whether to look at sofa cushions, or your reflection in a mirror with a shining gilded frame. Either pull out the drawers of the brightest wardrobe, or try which chair is more convenient – purple or emerald. A little further – a room for master classes and workshops with everything you need. Janek’s armchair frames are made by hand, impregnating the frame with a mixture of white poppy, sweet orange, tung and linseed oils. These oils repel moisture and dirt, allow the wood to breathe, contain no preservatives, have antimicrobial properties and are safe for health. The frame itself consists of glued wooden parts connected into a rigid structure. I run my hand over the carcass standing in the cabin: the wood is smooth, multi-layered, its pattern is visible and it is felt that the carpenter worked with great love. The frame, as it were, comes to life at hand, heats up and gives off heat. Janek does not use metal nails: the frame is fastened only with wooden nails. Then Natalia enters the game: stuffing upholstered furniture with natural materials – horsehair and dry algae, as well as upholstery with hand-painted fabric – is her work. Wooden parts are painted with special chalk paints.
Most of Natalia’s creative activity is furniture restoration. “If you use the correct terminology, then this is not a restoration, but a renovation,” says Natalia. – Why? When restoring, they restore the original appearance of the thing, and for this they use materials of the same time. I’m doing something completely different.” The designer brings me to the group of cabinet furniture: secretaries, sideboards, chests of drawers. Some of them have been turned into bright furniture with such an uncommon facial expression that you start to figure out where to put this cabinet, what walls, curtains and lamps it can be exhibited with. Such a piece of furniture will draw all the attention to itself, and white cabinets from IKEA will become a wonderful neutral background for it. Next to it are wooden cabinets trimmed with clearly antique metal plates: female figurines, medallions, one even has a marble table top. Things are solid and clearly middle-aged. I turn, with the permission of Natalya, the key – the lid is thrown back, and a heavy, musty wave hits my nose. “Soon no one will recognize this closet, only I haven’t figured out how to approach it yet. I see a thing and talk to it, I consult. For example, I want to use some color, and the thing answers: this does not suit me. Sometimes you have to repaint. The thing must be satisfied, because only under this condition will it come to life in my hands. After a series of magical transformations, the closet becomes completely different, the smell of old age disappears, its energy completely changes, Natalya believes. Old furniture for remodeling comes to her from various sources. The designer buys it in antique warehouses, as well as in the stores already mentioned above such as Sõbralt sõbrale. Sometimes they call and offer: I want to throw it away, maybe it will come in handy for you? Natalia asks to send a photo. And then the fate of the thing is decided: will it become a pop art table or is it destined to turn into a surreal bench for the hallway. Furniture brand Color Life has its loyal fans. But for some, it will surely seem too bright, too reckless …
BEAUTY IN THE EYES OF THE MASTER
“Templates have been imposed on us since childhood. And who said that what is beautiful is what the majority considers beautiful? After all, living among stereotypes, a person loses his own “I”, and we are all very different, and beauty, which, as you know, in the eyes of the beholder, is also different. I love not only things, I love people, and they are all very beautiful. Agree that there are no ugly people. How beautiful, for example, hands can be!
IN THE HANDS OF THE MASTER, THE OLD ARMCHAIRS-POFFES-LOCKERS REVIVE TO LIFE.
Natalja has been giving master classes on working with chalk paints for seven years now. “Do you think it’s easy – a man came with a bedside table, painted it, and you’re done? Not! We study gilding, the use of waxes, decoupage, the crackle technique – that is, obtaining the smallest, but very effective cracks on the surface of the material – craquelure. In fact, in addition to teaching the techniques of working with paints, I am engaged in color therapy with the participants of the courses. You have no idea how happy they are leaving me, having discovered their inner child! What kind of interior will the works of Natalia and Janek fit into? “At any! the designer responds quickly. – For example, a loft is in fashion now, but not everyone is comfortable in it. If you put a table or chest of drawers in the style of pop art in a factory interior, it will make the room more humane. A piece of art, a piece of art is a popular technique,” explains Natalia. “IKEA now makes solid furniture of good quality from more or less good materials. Do you want something special, but the budget is modest? We bought a sofa – repaint the legs, throw an unusual pillow! Each person is special, and his sofa should be special!
NATALYA SAYS THAT NEITHER SHE AND HER HUSBAND CONSIDER THESELF artisans. “WE HAVE A CREATIVE APPROACH, OUR OWN PHILOSOPHY. WE SEE BEAUTY AND ART IN EVERYTHING,” THE DESIGNER SAYS.