Louise Silfversparre builds 3D ecosystems as a reminder of our fragile relationship with nature
The Stockholm-based Visual Communication graduate runs us through her nature focused work, featuring technical digital environments and a deep exploration into technofossils.
Louise Silfversparre was one of the quieter kids who spent her time indoors, drawing blissfully to the drum of her own imagination. Even if it was a sunny day, you would have found her tucked inside creating something. Well, this is still the case for the recent graduate of Beckmans College of Design, but what’s surprising is that – despite not going outside all that much – her entire portfolio is abound with nature and the outdoors.
Creating atmospheric 3D landscapes and lush ecosystems, we were instantly transfixed by the immense skill and concept behind her work. It’s explorative yet equally lobbyist and Louise sees her role as designer as one of responsibility, shedding light on important issues; like our relationship with the environment. This can be seen in Windows, a 3D film sequence designed to replace real nature, or through her graduate project Technofossils – a profound study into the the unnatural case of fossils that derive from human activity such as an old phone, brick, melted plastic or radioactive uranium glass marbles. Here, we chat to Louise about her incredible 3D creations, what it means to be “plant blind”, and discuss the technical details and activist drive behind her work as a designer.
GalleryLouise Silfversparre: Technofossils
It’s Nice That: What inspired you to work in this field, was there a particular moment or reason that sparked it?
Louise Silfversparre: When I started university, I thought my niche would be graphic design and illustration. I had never really considered 3D as something I wanted to do. A few months into the program, we were given an assignment to create and project 3D animations onto big spatial installations. I was intrigued by the fact that you can create whatever your mind comes up with, as long as you have the technical skills for it. There’s always ways of improving, or new techniques to learn. It never gets boring.
I like that it takes time and that the process is long. I can be a bit of a control freak, and therefore get easily frustrated when I have to be impulsive and rely on my gut feeling. I’d rather have a long process ahead of me that gives me time to think things through and try different options. Working with 3D design usually takes some time, in that way this field suits me quite well.
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Louise Silfversparre: Technofossils, Trinitite
“I was intrigued by the fact that you can create whatever your mind comes up with, as long as you have the technical skills for it.”Louise Silfversparre
INT: Can you run us through the details and ethos behind your project Technofossils?
LS: The idea behind the Technofossils project had been cooking for some time before I actually got to carry it out. The concept started to take form a few years ago when I sparked an interest in fossils and minerals; I found it fascinating that something that can seem as simple as a regular grey rock can be the key to learning about our past. It got me thinking of what we’ll leave behind for future generations to find, and that’s when I stumbled upon the term ‘technofossil’.
Unlike regular fossils, which are derived from living things, technofossils have been created by or as a result of human activity. This means that we’ve had such a profound impact on the environment that it is now creating objects that wouldn’t exist if it weren't for our interference – objects that probably will remain long after we are gone. A technofossil can be many different things – an old phone or a brick, for example – but I chose to focus on objects that weren’t meant to happen. These minerals belong to what is known as the Human Epoch, or the Anthropocene. A mineral that has been formed by melted plastic washed up on beaches, or radioactive uranium glass marbles created by the first atomic bomb test; these are the kinds of things we’re leaving behind for future generations to find.
For me personally, my role as a designer is not about inventing new philosophies or coming up with groundbreaking ideas. It’s about visualising existing information that I feel is important to bring forward. In this case, I hope that my interpretations of technofossils can work as a symbol for how we are responsible for our own footprints and as a reminder of our ignorant actions. A lot of people are probably already aware of the impact that humans have on nature, so hopefully this project will be a reminder that makes you stop and think about it from another perspective. I don’t have a solution to the problem, but through design I can make more people aware and involved to change.
“I hope that my interpretations of technofossils can work as a symbol for how we are responsible for our own footprints and as a reminder of our ignorant actions.”Louise Silfversparre
INT: Nature and environmentalism are prominent themes throughout your work. What attracted you to this subject matter and what do you hope to achieve through your explorations?
LS: I’ve never felt especially close to nature. I was always the kid to sit inside and draw on a sunny day instead of going outside (I still am). When I look back at what I’ve created over the past few years, I can see that nature – our relationship to it and whether we’ll be apart of it’s future – is something that I keep coming back to. This hasn’t been a conscious decision, but obviously it’s always been in the back of my head. I think that by using nature and the environment as a motif in my own works, I’ve been able to appreciate and care about it more. I grew up surrounded by nature and spent my summers in Stockholm’s archipelago, but it wasn’t until now that I feel I’ve created my own personal bond with it.
A friend of mine recently introduced me to a new term called plant blindness. It basically means that you don’t really acknowledge nature going on around you, it’s just a backdrop. The term was coined since it gets more and more common for people not to notice the nature around us, we take if for granted. I related a lot to the term. I’ve probably been plant blind most of my life, but I’ve learned to appreciate it more now when I try to recreate it with digital tools.
INT: What are your plans for the near future, do you have a dream project or goal in mind?
LS: Me and my friend Lina from university recently started our studio Double Up, so now my biggest focus is getting that up and running. We’ve worked together on several projects before this, so a joint practice felt like an obvious next step for us. I think that the whole design industry is facing some changes moving forward, partly due to Covid-19, of course, but also since it’s about time that some more voices are to be heard. Anyhow, I’m looking forward to move forward alongside a friend.
There’s so much I want to do in the future, but one specific dream project I would love to carry out is to create something together with a sound artist or musician. I’ve always been surrounded by musicians; music has always been a big part of my life. So far, the sounds in my projects usually had to adjust after the visual parts. I would love to work on a project where sound and image are developed together, whatever it might be.
GalleryLouise Silfversparre: Windows
INT: What’s the most important thing you learnt during your time at university?
LS: The most important thing that I’m taking with me from university is the ability to talk about my practice and the things I create. I’ve learnt not to underestimate the value of rhetorics and words. The conversations I’ve had with my classmates and teachers is what I’ll miss the most. I don't think you actually need to study at a school to learn the practical skills of a designer, you only need a computer for that. For me, it has been the social aspect of being surrounded by other creative people that proved invaluable. As a student in Visual Communication, how can I reach out and communicate with my designs if I can’t even describe them to myself or the people around me?
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.