Jordan Söderberg Mills studied MA Design (Ceramics) at Central Saint Martins (CSM), graduating in 2015. His work explores light and colour using steel and glass, and he currently splits his time between Germany and Chile. We caught up with him to find out what he has been up to since graduating.
Having studied in Toronto and Santiago previously, what made you choose London, and Central Saint Martins, for your MA?
I’ve always had these far-fetched notions about London – a bit of Dickens, a bit of Vivienne Westwood, a bit of Dr. Who. It’s one of the most creative cities in the world, with a gravity that draws everyone into its orbit. CSM has a reputation for producing talented, avant-garde artists and designers – but also creative professionals that thrive within their markets. This balance of art and commerce is what drew me to CSM and UAL.
Has your MA had an impact on your work since?
My masters helped me realize my potential. I’d been living in the Andes in central Chile, forging steel and carving stone sculptures, working with raw elements in a simple way. Now I’m creating highly technical work for many different disciplines, based on optics and the mechanics of perception. My MA has given me a formula to work when I “wasn’t inspired.” I now have ways of resolving creative problems, can balance research with outcomes, and use iteration to refine ideas. It’s a game of chess, and my degree taught me invaluable strategies.
You have previously split your time between Canada and Chile, and are now based between Germany and Chile; how do you balance working between two continents? What are the benefits and what are the challenges?
Having a physical space to work is key – as makers we need access to materials and the tools to transform them. I find co-working “maker spaces” in the cities I travel to. This is partly why making skills are so critical, as it’s easier to transport your knowledge than a MIG welder.
The language barrier can be frustrating at first – especially with very technical terms. You have to be at peace with being widely considered a well-meaning fool. Ultimately to have a new language means you have a new way to observe the world, and that is an incredible resource – it opens up new ways of researching, and new relationships.
The more projects you do internationally, the more opportunities arise abroad. Demonstrating a measure of flexibility, and investing in projects outside of your home country, means you get more diverse inspiration, more potential collaborators, and more opportunities.
What has been your greatest achievement?
I’m proud of my mirror work. This is a good, and rare feeling – one to hold on to when things get tough. I think it’s pushing some new boundaries in glass, in physics, in perception.
Designing a concept space for Adidas in Boston (with Sid Lee Architecture) was a professional high for me, and shortly thereafter winning Best in Glass from *Wallpaper Magazine. That was bananas, totally unexpected, and made my mom cry (in a good way.)
What is next for you?
I have a busy year coming up; I’ve been collaborating with a few bands on music videos and stage design – including a certain Toronto rapper (who unfortunately can’t be named yet.) I’m also developing sets for a National Ballet, figuring out ways that light and optics can extend and augment the silhouettes of the dancers.
I have a big installation coming up at the Art Gallery of Ontario, a collection of glass furniture with Glass Onze in Brazil, and am up for a permanent installation in Dubai. I’ll also be setting up my new studio in Germany in the spring. I’m working hard, and am very excited about what the future holds.