Independent Swedish designer Ann-Sofie Back has applied her disruptive approach to fashion to interior design, with a new collection of unusual objects for the home.
Preserving the status quo has never held any charm for Back, who, in the course of her fashion career, constantly explored what she called “alien to me” themes like pornography, car culture, and God in work that was otherwise grounded in feminism and personal experience. A graduate of Beckmans College of Design and Central Saint Martins who launched her label in 2001, she traveled a path forged by female-led 1990s labels like Bless and Susan Cianciolo. Her deconstructions of the status quo were intimate and often humorous. (See: her “ass hoodie” pants and three-lens sunglasses.) “I don’t think you take yourself completely seriously if you like my brand,” Back told me in 2016; though it must be noted that she is indeed meticulous when it comes to patternmaking and construction.
In addition to designing, Back also worked as a stylist (often teaming up with photographer Anders Edström), and acted as the creative director of Cheap Monday for almost a decade. After closing her business in 2018, Back freelanced with the Swedish electronics company Teenage Engineering, where she met the marketing maestro Mattias Dymling, who is her collaborator on this project. “He approached me and asked, ‘How would you feel about making interior design?” Back says. “I never thought about it really [and] I was a bit lost; my dad died at the same time as I left Teenage Engineering, and everything was upside down.”
Soon after Gnilmyd Kcab was formed (the unpronounceable name combines the founders’ surnames spelled backwards), Back was diagnosed with cancer and started treatment. But she seems to be starting a new chapter this year. “It’s less personal for me when I do interior design than when I did fashion, because with fashion, it was so tied into my own insecurities about femininity, and my body, and looks, and perfection,” she says. “When I do interior design, that’s not a problem anymore. What’s different is that I’m naive about interior design; I don’t know the history and I don’t know who the designers are, so I can be freer. It reminds me of starting out in fashion, when you feel like everything is possible and you don’t really know the boundaries.”
The off-ness that defined certain aspects of Back’s work in fashion has crossed over into the surreal with her pieces for the home. The debut Gnilmyd Kcab line features wig lampshades in emerald and lilac with an “Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction” vibe; a draped shade and pillow, called Gala, and faux fur “coats”—i.e. rugs—for floors and chairs. “I think of [the rugs] as a little bit sexual, like you meet someone and then you throw your fur on the floor and then you basically have sex in front of the fire… That was sort of the idea behind it.” Color us intrigued.
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