Interview Mia Dillemuth | Pictures Thomas Klementsson | Concept and fashion design Martin Bergström | Stylist Minttu Vesala | Layout Matts Bjolin | English Editor Julie Uusinarkaus

Hand-drawn patterns are the basis of visual artist Martin Bergström’s work. He is an awarded fashion designer using his talent in the fields of interior, set and stage design. Organic materials and abstract forms mix in his work. Bergström regards his collections as a kind of exhibition – the garments themselves being his paintings and the textiles his paint. Bergström has the ability, by using various techniques, to bring things to life. His latest project is called Toxic Yum Yum. Around interviewed Bergstöm on the creative process involved in it. The images of your latest collection combine performance art, installation and visual art on many levels. What is the story behind Toxic Yum Yum?

Toxic Yum Yum is inspired by the dangerous beauty of nature’s most poisonous plants and fungi. Nature is sweet but insidious. Some of the most attractive botanical species are also the deadliest. The frivolous redness of the fly agaric, the jagged beauty of the thorn apple. The tempting taste of the morel, the toxic violet heart of the henbane. First they seduce you, and then they kill you.

The prints of the Toxic Yum Yum collection remind me of medieval stained glass. Can you tell us a little bit about your process of print making? 

That’s a really good interpretation. The medieval is always an inspiration for me. I just can’t stop looking at medieval art and reading the history. I love it! The process of making the prints took a really long time. I did 59 prints. Painting, scanning 250-year-old flowers (I have a herbarium from 1850 with thousands of flowers), etc. Collages. Then the prints led the way for the garments, shapes and draping. I didn’t want to cut the fabrics, like the medieval way of constructing clothes.

What do you focus on in your fashion design?

Fashion reflects the world, and the world is old fashion. We need to work hard for the environment and the animals and to take care of our little planet. That’s what we should focus on.

At which point do you feel that your work is complete? For example with Toxic Yum Yum there are many layers: first of all the prints and the design work but then also the shoot and then the final pictures. 

My goal is to never complete something. Complete is boring.You have worked for many years with photographer Thomas Klementsson. How did you come up with the idea to collaborate with stylist Minttu Vesala, who is also the model in the pictures?

We have a very organic way of working. It’s so easy, and we play with ideas when we have worked together so long and know each other so well. Minttu is our really good friend, and we have talked over wine many times about doing something, and this was one of them. Like an essence of time. So Minttu was a choice of love.

It seems to me that humour plays a certain role in your artistic work?

Sometimes or rather often things get a little too much in my head, and then humour sort of solves that, or a migraine.

What is your vision? Where do you aim with your creative projects?

Humour and sex.

Is there an artist who you really admire or whose work you would like to own?

I would love to own Cornelis van Haarlem’s The Fall of the Titans from 1588–90 – it’s one of my favourite art pieces. I always visit that painting when in Copenhagen. And when the world falls, I will go to Copenhagen and take it.

What is beautiful to you? And what is ugly? 


The collection is available at The Residency, which is a really interesting concept as well. Can you tell us a little bit about your collaboration?

It’s Bea Åkerlund’s Showroom. She handpicks artists and designers from all over the world and spreads fashion through hard work and love and dedication. It’s an amazing and creative place.

Future plans/projects?

Lots, and also a secret Finnish one.

Photographer Thomas Klementsson

Stylist and model Minttu Vesala