Sarah-Linda Forrer is a product designer based in Amsterdam. Born and raised in the French Pyrenees, she has always been inspired by the details of nature. With her intuitive and experimental way of working she searches for new beauty and attractive tactility. Fascinated by people’s rituals, she strives to create sensitivity for forgotten moments and details which influence our daily lives, triggering the imagination with her work. Sarah-Linda Forrer graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in december 2013, department Man & Identity, where she developed an experimental and conceptual way of working, colour and material sensitivity and a good feeling for trends.
I grew up in nature and I think it’s still a big part of my inspiration.
Can you share a little more about yourself, where you grew up, your background?
I grew up in the south of France where my Dutch parents have been living for 40 years, it’s in the middle of nowhere in a forest.
My parents are creative, half by profession but more by passion. They moved to France in the 70’s when they were hippies; they bought ruins and renovated them, one of which I grew up in. My dad still lives there, my mum now lives close by in a village. They live as much as they can from nature from their huge garden. They always did, and do, as much as they can by themselves. My mother used to make clothes for all of us and jewellery which she would also sell on the markets, and my dad builds, fixes and renovates everything. For me it was natural for my parents to be around me and doing what they love. They didn’t have the typical 9 till 5 jobs and I’m so used to this lifestyle that it’s hard for me to imagine working for someone else during set hours. It just won’t make me happy.
I started studying art when I was 17 in Rennes (in the north of France) for two years, but then I realised I really wanted to focus on design. I was told about the Design Academy in Eindhoven by my aunt and I thought wow! this must be the best school ever. So, I focused on my portfolio for the whole year to go there and, to my great happiness, got accepted.
After graduation, I came to Amsterdam and started working in a design studio, but I wasn’t quite ready to work for someone else. So, decided to try things out and see what I could do myself. I wanted to travel to take a break from design (I had a total design overdose after graduation). I took a step back from the job and worked in some restaurants for a while before I decided to start collaborating with Stella, who I met in the academy. We founded Studio Haze, a studio focussing on patterns for interior / fashion fabrics and products. I also started doing some projects myself, and from there it grew.
Does your surroundings/ travel affect your creativity and work and in what way?
Because I grew up in nature I think it’s still a big part of my inspiration. I always go back to natural things when I looking to be inspired. I miss it a lot in Amsterdam. I go back when I can to France or to the forest, anywhere outside. As soon as possible I want to be able to live half in the city and half in nature.
Lately, I travel a lot with my work and boyfriend’s work. It’s nice to have the opportunity to travel around and feel free, and to be able to work from anywhere.
My style and my work is very sensitive, a lot about details and materiality. The shapes I use in my work are organic, feminine and sensual, very nature inspired. I try to inspire other people with my work, and it doesn’t have to be with practical objects. It can be just about triggering someone’s mind and making something unexpected.
When you come into the studio in the morning, what’s the first thing you pick up when you are in the studio? What kind of tools do you use for your work?
I would probably check my email, make a cup of tea and make a plan to set my day straight. If I was to create then I would pick up the project, use my hands and tools. But if I was to draw patterns for textiles then it’s more about paper and paints. I try to use the computer the least I can, I prefer working with my hands.
What new skills would you love to learn?
I would love to learn a lot, maybe master ceramics? I am working with ceramics, but I never learnt in depth about it. It would be amazing to have my own ceramic studio. It would also be nice to know more about 3D programming/drawing, it’s a handy skill which would be nice to use with experimenting and communicating ideas to producers. I think I should practice more hand drawing too, it’s nice to get your creativity flowing without having it need to be perfect.
And I want to learn more languages, I speak Dutch, French and English. But I would like to learn more of Italian. I had an internship there, so I understand it, but I can’t really hold a conversation.
Oh, and I would really love to develop some selling/marketing skills!
Do you have any rituals or secrets to stay grounded and balanced?
I do yoga/barre/HIIT and I try to do it as often as I can if I’m in Amsterdam. I started doing meditation with an app, but since being away I haven’t been in my routine. But I want to do it more, I think it’s really worth it. I try to start the day clean by making my bed, writing down things I need to do in the day, it keeps my mind clear.
Could you describe your ideal Sunday, sleep late, cooking for friends at home, go out to the park?
To me I think that would be more of a Saturday because I love to go to the Noordermarkt. When I really have a day off, it’s great to just not check my computer and not touch anything. Maybe go to the market and buy amazing fresh foods, have some friends over or go to theirs, or do some sports and be outside. When the weather is bad I would have people over and cook. My boyfriend and I always try to set a really nice table with good food, make it cosy and drink good wine that we buy during our trips to France.
What’s your favourite travel destination? What country has the best food?
It depends, I would have to say France or Italy; the countries are both really nice. The nature and the food are great in both countries. The quality of life is just so nice because people take the time to care about the small good things like amazing food, beautiful clothes, family time and long hikes in the mountains. It’s so much more about the details: when you go into the small villages, you walk around and everything is just beautiful. When I’m there I try and go to many second-hand stores for unexpected findings.
And more exotic: I love Thailand, and lately I would love to go to Mexico! With beautiful nature, weather, good food and these amazing old ruins and temples. It sounds very inspiring, it would be great to visit.
Could you describe yourself in 3 words?
I think it’s so hard to think of this for yourself.
I always want to do my best and reach my goals, you can probably call that dedicated, persevering.
I’m definitely a health freak, and people tell me I’m a bit of a control freak because I want things done to the best that I can and the way I have it mind, so that might be the perfectionist in me. But Im also a life-lover, I like to enjoy the little things like love, food, wine, people, nature. They’re very important to me, we shouldn’t forget them. It would be sad to work really hard your whole life and not get to actually enjoy it in the mean time..!
What is your happy place, online/offline?
It can be different, for example where I grew up in my parents home: when I go back I still feel calm and happy. Amsterdam too when the weather is nice, I love walking around the city. Also, my home! When it comes to happy places, I prefer to stay offline!
Between work and traveling, how do you find the time to cook a healthy meal?
It’s so important for me to eat well and healthy that I usually find a way. If I’m out it’s a priority in my planning, I will always find some fruit or salad at least. I can be very annoying to my travel companions, I can go a long, long way to find good/healthy food. Here at home I go to the farmers market and if I don’t have the time to cook a whole meal I just make a simple salad. I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life, so I eat a lot of vegetables (I looove vegetables) and really like cooking. Ottolenghi inspires me, his style is always surprising thanks to all the crazy spices and flavours. But i’m really bad at exactly following a recipe until the end… I usually change some things along the way.
If you really want to eat healthy, you will find or make time for cooking and enjoying good food.
See more of Sarah’s work here.
Photos by Larissa M Smits, text and interview by Chloe Lloyd.