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Johanna Ritscher and her filing cabinet entitled "12 månader" [12 months] is the 2019 recipient of the Tormek Scholarship Award. Johanna has created a cabinet that would be the dream addition to any living room thanks to its beautiful design and outstanding details. "I am truly passionate about designing, and I love creative projects," says Johanna.
Woodcraft, art, painting, drawing, graphic design and music. Johanna Ritscher has tried out many creative fields, and continues to pursue some of them to this day. Creative projects have always been her driving force. She began making a living from spatial design back in 2005, when she worked on her first assignments – exhibitions for the Swedish Red Cross and Malmö Museum. A few years later, she helped to design the Swedish Pavilion for the UN summit held in Copenhagen in 2009. She has spent the last two years studying to become a joiner and cabinetmaker at Snickarakademin in Kristianstad.
"The various fields I work in inspire one another. With music, the aim is to convey an emotion to an audience. Exactly the same is true of items of furniture – they have to be more than just functional. Shapes and colours have to work well together, and convey an emotion to the recipient in the long run."
We meet Johanna at her apartment in the heart of Malmö. It does not take long for us to realise that someone creative lives here. In the hallway, we encounter a beautiful furnishing together with an elegant coffee table, both of which are made by hand. In the living room, we find her desk – which has been made from a beautiful old door. And at the very heart of her home is the item that took Johanna almost 300 hours to complete – "12 månader", her qualifying piece of work. She came up with this name because the cabinet is designed to store documents relating to the 12 months of the year. There are 12 upright compartments, one for every month.
The cabinet is made from solid walnut and birch, with a charming herringbone pattern in a walnut veneer. The fittings are made of brass, which creates elegant details and enhances the overall experience. Details are at the very heart of Johanna's creative work.
"Detail is crucial to my creative efforts. I start off with the details, then I have a good think about how I can apply them, and to what. That is why I often change things along the way. The creative process for my qualifying piece was extremely varied. I came up with various sketches and built a number of prototypes of other items before I decided to work on a filing cabinet."
Although Johanna grew up in a family with a strong tradition of craftsmanship, she does not think this is the only reason why she decided to work with craft and design. Creating things and working creatively have been part of her DNA ever since she was very young.
"Creative projects are my driving force. There is something inside me that I have to let out. I sometimes need to process my thoughts and feelings by using my hands. Like laying parquetry – it stops me focusing on what is inside my head and forces me to concentrate entirely on what I am doing."
"Moreover, how raw timber can be turned into fantastic furniture fascinates me. It is a really satisfying process. Creating something that might well survive for another century."
Most people agree that sharp tools are required when manufacturing handmade furniture in this way. However, Johanna is of the opinion that this influences the entire creative process as well. Knowing that fine adjustments can be made and that details can be altered at micro-level is crucial to creative work.
"Being able to use sharp tools is crucial to the furniture I have already made, and the furniture I want to make in the future. In this society where mass consumption rules, I think many people set great store by items made by hand – with drawers with handmade joints, for instance. It is absolutely impossible to create drawers with handmade joints if you do not have sharp tools."
"Sharp tools were absolutely crucial when I created my qualifying piece, too, because they allowed me to cut the tiny pieces and the sheets that create the pattern in the parquetry."
During the autumn, Johanna has rented premises at a local joinery, with her company "Woodwork & Furniture Design by Johanna Ritscher", where she manufactures furnishings to order and her own collections. The Tormek Scholarship Award, a complete sharpening system with jigs and accessories, is the perfect addition to her workshop.
"Now I am an expert in sharpening, and I can make sure everyone else has sharp tools as well."
Here at Tormek, we are proud to be part of Johanna's creative work and wish her every success in the future!
The reasons given by the judges for the award are as follows:
Johanna has created a cabinet that would be the dream addition to any living room thanks to its beautiful design and appealing details. This piece of furniture is ambitious in many ways – not least when it comes to the herringbone pattern, which creates a wonderful 3D effect. This is a fantastic piece of craftsmanship that radiates accuracy and finesse.
Take a look at www.johannaritscher.com to see more of Johanna's work.