When I enter Lotta Jansdotter’s studio in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, she is admiring some doll clothes she’s just found in a nearby vintage store.
“They were in this big basket that was sort of hidden in a corner,” she says incredulously. “Aren’t they lovely?"
Indeed they are: a checked apron dress, a black swing jacket with a green pearl for a button, a full brown skirt. Very 1950s, very fresh.
“I’d wear them if they were my size!”
Doll clothes, advertisements for bottle-recycling and other odds and ends are the kinds of visuals that feed Jansdotter’s imagination as a designer. As a child, she divided her time between her grandmother’s island home on Åland, Finland, where Jansdotter was born, and Stockholm, Sweden, where she grew up. These early experiences of city and country are now merged into her own line of stylish design. Jansdotter left Stockholm as a 20 year old, heading for San Francisco where she spent some obligatory time fiddling around, trying to find out what she wanted to do with her life. She took lessons in different crafts and finally found her calling in screen-printing. Four years ago she settled in Brooklyn, New York where she now lives with her architect husband and their 3-year-old son, August.
“I have more ideas today than ever,” she says, leaning back in her chair, clearly exhilarated. “If I just knew how to delegate, I’d probably design anything and everything: fashion, furniture, lamp shades … I have more ideas in my head than I will ever be able to carry out.”
Jansdotter’s known primarily for her bags, fabrics, stationery and aprons with design that’s curiously appealing in its simplicity. It is at once organic and elegant. Her studio has that wonderfully organized yet bohemian chic air of a person who is meticulous and diligent. There are endless shelves of books, lovely pieces of fabric, paintbrushes neatly bunched in holders, and folders with interesting pictures that she has pulled from magazines and brochures found along the way.
“People are inspired by me, by what I do,” Jansdotter says. “They feel that if I can do it, they can too, which is great!”
That kind of inspiration has led to a string of popular workshops in printmaking and sewing, as well as several equally popular books. “Lotta Prints,” “Simple Sewing” and “Simple Sewing for Babies” are a few of her titles (all published by Chronicle Books).
“I’m not very good at writing,” Jansdotter says unabashedly. “But I’m good at coming up with great concepts, great packaging. I have a strong sense of style. A style that is influenced by my Scandinavian upbringing as well as my years in America.”