a conversation with Whats What Collective

"Potential Energy"

"A story of analogue dimming,
movement and rest...."

We wanted more than A and B,
we wanted all the moments or movements to belong to the narrative."

John, Bengt and Karin

I'm not sure where I read about whatswhat collective first,
but all of a sudden, I saw their lamps everywhere!
Their concrete bases, their simple lines, and shades that transform.
Potential Energy, brings to mind a 1988 Information Society record I have
buried deep in my hardrive.

The idea that energy exists, and lamps do indeed transform
our spaces and lives......

I'm excited to see where this collective takes it next!


Go to whatswhat collective
for more info and images.


Brief bio of company. What countries are you from?
We all met at Konstfack, Stockholm in September 2009. We are currently still studying for a masters in industrial design and have one more year left before we graduate. We set up whatswhat collective to pool our resources and work in a collaborative manner to try and produce and refine our designs as much as possible before releasing them at ICFF 2010. John is from England, Bengt is half German / half Swedish and Karin is Swedish.


You work have such a kinetic sense about it, it almost reminds me of a draw bridge that goes up and down. What inspired you to make "potential energy?" The thoughts behind the origin... Potential energy was something that came up in conversation when we were thinking about where we were as designers at the time and where we wanted to be. We were talking a lot about the idea of conveying a story or some kind of narrative within the piece. We wanted more than A and B, we wanted all the moments or movements to belong to the narrative.

I'm particularly drawn to the rough concrete base,
and the simplistic black cord that runs up the spine....

Your materials have this basic quality, unadorned.... that I love.
Why did you choose the materials for these lamps?
As for the materials we tried to deliver an honesty and an ease to the communication. It was analogue and basic yet still refined. We were looking to find an effect beyond the materials, returning to the idea of narrative.

I hope to be in Stockholm this year, and I love electronic music,
anywhere I should visit? Or any design / art galleries I need to pay a visit too?
Things to do in Stockholm: You can always get in touch with us when you are here, but here are some suggestions to think about.

Strand at Hornstull - Robyn DJs there quite a lot and its kind of
dirty in a good way. (dirty, count me in!)
Galleri Naive - A small but good art/design Gallery in
Allmäna Galleriet - Bar on
Kungsholmen with a good mixed crowd.
Galleri Kocks - Gallery on SödermalmKåken,
Riche, Berns, Spybar, Bar Le Rouge - Good Clubs/Bars
Fotografiska - new photography gallery on the waterfront in Sodermalm

Landet - the bar opposite school. A favourite for obvious reasons!

"A story of analogue dimming, movement and rest...." What's your idea of rest?
Now Rest, it depends if you are talking about what we do for rest or the lamps. We can take both... See above for rest, all of the places we mentioned are places we take our time off!

Also in the summer the whole of Stockholm becomes a different city and with so much nature and water surrounding the city its hard not to relax.

When it comes to the lamps we talked about rest being a balancing point between movements. The lamps look for interaction to change their character and the light they emit, but are equally happy to sit undisturbed and at rest...


Any favorite
lighting designers, or inspirations for you? (music, artist, writers, personal, etc....) As for inspiration: its everywhere and I guess it changes everyday so today its: Finn Juhl, coffee, Passion Pit, Robyn, cajun spices and ciabatta, Konstfack's degree show, hot glue and paper.

go here for more...
Whatswhat Collective are John Astbury, Bengt Brümmer and Karin Wallenbäck. All coming from different countries but sharing a Scandinavian connection, they met in the fall of 2009 at the master programme in Formgiving Intelligence at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm.


Potential Energy is their first project together as Whatswhat Collective.


Thank you to
John, Bengt and Karin!