Interview with Kaj Ransvi EF from Sweden

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Kaj Ransvi EF

Kaj Ransvi EF, born in 1968 in Sweden with connections to both Sweden and Finland, currently resides in the southern part of Sweden. Having spent nearly a decade in the Caribbean, he has accumulated 30 years of experience in the design industry, working across various fields.

Interview With The 2023 NY Product Design Awards Winner – Kaj Ransvi EF

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your background.

I'm Kaj Ransvi EF, born in 1968 in Sweden with ties to both Sweden and Finland. Currently residing in the South of Sweden, I previously spent almost a decade living in the Caribbean.

I have been in the design industry for 30 years now and have worked in different fields.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a product designer?

I have always loved details and shapes in products, buildings, and arts in nature. I don't think I made a choice to become a product designer; it just became a part of who I am.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

For the last 30 years I have been designing unique and luxurious properties, private villas, hotels and restaurants worldwide. I simply adore taking existing products and making them better!

I've always been heavily involved in product design, especially when working on interior and furniture. Whether it's drawing furniture or creating better-looking light switches, I enjoy the whole process. One of my notable successes was redesigning a lighting product that wasn't working well. My improved design earned recognition with multiple awards.

4What does “design” mean to you?
To me, design is woven into everything we encounter and use daily. Behind most things, there's someone who has invested countless hours to optimize production, usability, appearance, and cost.
5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?
While I don't have a specific favorite type of design because each serves its unique purpose, if I had to pick, I'd lean towards the fashion industry for my personal favorites.
6To you, what makes a “good” design?

To me, the epitome of good design lies in the meticulous harmony of every detail, from size and color to texture and proportions. Witnessing a well-crafted design elicits a sense of tranquility in the mind, bringing about a relaxed state.

On the contrary, encountering elements, such as an item being out of proportion, can occasionally trigger nervousness. It might sound unconventional, but I'm that person who finds it second nature to stroll around and reposition things that don't align correctly.

7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

Many characterize my design as a blend of boldness and sophistication—perhaps a bit perplexing, yet not entirely. It's a design style that can be described as burlesque in its essence but meticulous in its attention to detail—an intriguing combination.

Take, for instance, "The Sneaker," a design I crafted featuring raw black snake-printed skin and glossy gold details. It strikes a balance suitable for both skaters and formal occasions. Notably, this sneaker clinched several accolades! For me, the allure lies in creating designs that are both daring and refined.

8Tell us about your design process.

The approach varies based on the project, but typically, when commencing a new endeavor, I gather the necessary information and then allow it to incubate for about two weeks. During this period, though seemingly dormant, my brain engages in a peculiar process, working out the details. Upon resuming the project after this reflective period, it usually comes together seamlessly.

Described as a savant, I attribute this to having Asperger's syndrome—a powerful tool for me. My brain continually captures images from my surroundings, facilitating the rapid identification of suitable shapes, colors, and materials.

An additional advantage is its perpetual search for information, analyzing trends and details across all media. I believe many designers who stay one step ahead of the market possess similar skills.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?
Coming from Sweden, a country deeply rooted in technical industries, one might presume that my education influenced my expertise. Contrary to expectations, I am entirely self-taught, boasting a wealth of knowledge accumulated over 30 years of practical experience.
10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 NY Product Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Winning awards serves as a significant personal and professional boost. Beyond enhancing my identity as a designer, it provides a valuable spotlight for the company in the media. We leverage the recognition extensively in our advertising efforts.

Competing on a global scale with exceptionally talented designers, earning an award signifies that my skills and ideas stand out, evoking a sense of pride.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 NY Product Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

Having lived in the Caribbean for a decade, I've witnessed firsthand the impact of global warming. Motivated to inspire change in our approach to pollution and consumption, I created "The Reminder" watch. This timepiece serves as a symbolic statement, urging us to reconsider our ecological footprint.

"The Reminder" is not just a watch; it's a reflection on climate change. Its exterior mimics the earth's weathered surface, adorned with laser-cut gold details symbolizing the beauty of our planet. The sapphire glass, covering the date display with a cyclop lens, emphasizes the significance of each day—represented by the solitary number 11, signifying the time for change, often referred to as "The eleventh hour."

The design subtly addresses global issues, featuring an inspiring strap with printed messages about combating pollution and global warming. An intricately designed earth map on the crown completes the visual narrative. From afar, the watch appears clean, but up close, its captivating design sparks meaningful conversations about environmental consciousness.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
I grappled with the challenge of effectively conveying my message within a limited space, seeking ways to ensure clarity and understanding.
13How has winning an award developed your practice/career?
In 2012, I earned my inaugural award, and since then, I've proudly received a total of 14 accolades. These honors have not only opened numerous doors to new clients but have also played a pivotal role in gaining recognition for the designs I create.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
Passion, passion and passion!
15Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?
I think I speak for all designers when I say that we aspire to encourage clients to invest in superior and environmentally sustainable products, shifting the emphasis from production costs to the prominence of design and materials.
16What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Exercise patience, and if there's a design element you strongly believe in, resist changing it merely to accommodate a producer's preference for a cheaper production method or material. There are moments when it's essential to be persistent and unwavering in preserving our original ideas.

Winning Entry

The Reminder | 2023

The Reminder is an exquisite watch crafted to help you keep time and reflect on the effects of climate change. It is a …
(Read more at NY Product Design Awards)

Kaj Ransvi EF

Kaj Ransvi EF, born in 1968 in Sweden with connections to both Sweden and Finland, currently resides in the southern part of Sweden. Having spent nearly a decade in the Caribbean, he has accumulated 30 years of experience in the design industry, working across various fields.

Read more about this interview with Matthew Smith from the United States, the Silver Winner of the 2023 NY Product Design Awards.