February 2, 2018

Tonje Linnea has a different kind of creative expression: she has made a couture fashion collection entirely made of safety pins, beads and sequins. Obsession contains 10 outfits and 21 pieces and 7,000 hours of work that made it all the way to a fashion show at Nosh and Chow in Stockholm.

The pieces are built from a range of 8,000 up to 125,000 safety pins, with about half a million safety pins (!) used for the whole collection.

Tonje's goal was to have her own fashion show featuring the collection that she created over the course of a year. This was well documented on the new TV show Idag om ett år airing in March on the Swedish channel SVT. The show follows various participants for a full year and all participants began by setting up a goal for themselves.

1. What inspired you to start creating clothes made out of safety pins?


I can’t really remember the moment I decided to do this, but I’ve always been a big fan of pop art and how they use everyday objects to create art. This combined with me and my grandma making bracelets out of safety pins when I was little might have planted a seed.


A few years ago when I was graduating from a communication design school I wanted to do something unexpected as my last project for the grad show. As a joke I said, “I wanna do something different, like make clothes out of safety pins.” This was at a time when I was obsessed with watching Project Runway and loved the unconventional challenges. After planting that silly idea in my head it started to grow on me and eventually I thought, why not? Why not try and see what could happen, and challenge myself to create something beautiful out of something as ordinary as safety pins. I ordered 100,000 safety pins in one go. I had no idea what to do with them but started to experiment and one thing lead to another.


2. What techniques do you use to create your clothes?


t’s very important for me to try different techniques and find new ways to transform the medium. Sometimes I place several safety pins together to create a interesting texture or in some cases I hang safety pins onto netting to get a fringe-y look. Another common technique that I often use is to fit the safety pins together to make a weave. To make colours or a pattern on a piece I put beads on the needle. My collection has 1,5 million beads and sequins and every piece was fitted by hand. I keep exploring techniques and learning along the way through trial and error.



3How is it different creatively from your day job as a graphic designer?


At my day job I work from a client perspective, which means that I have the client’s interest in mind. I solve problems in a way that serves my client’s needs, so even if that’s creative as well you have to come up with solutions that work with your client’s vision. That’s why I often can’t make decisions out of personal taste, I have to look at the target audience, platforms and the brand when I make my design.


When I create my wearable art pieces it’s all about me. I create whatever I find visually attractive. It’s a creative freedom that’s hard to compare with anything else, even if I’m sometimes the hardest client of all to satisfy. Because it’s created from the heart and from my own point of view it’s much more personal. My pieces are a representation of me, my creativity and my design aesthetic.



4. What was the most challenging part of the process?


The whole project was very time-consuming, it’s hard to understate the amount of hours that go into making a piece. It’s also impossible to speed up the process - it takes time - so working toward a deadline was extremely stressful. Another challenge is to give safety pins a look of ease, to make the pieces feel effortless and also attractive on a body. I added another level of complexity when I wanted the garments to be wearable and have have freedom-of-movement when walking. I worked mathematically to get the shapes correct and balancing to get the weight evenly distributed on the body.


5. Who would you love to see wearing your pieces?


Lady Gaga, without a doubt. That would be the coolest thing ever.

We think Tonje Linnea's work is impressive on so many levels and the clothes are nothing less than art.

To Follow Tonje Linnea on Instagram and visit tonjelinnea.com



Photos by Olov Sotarn Tegby Frisk

Text by Jennifer Borge

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