Meet Your Makers: Flora Norwegica

Flora Norwegica

This weeks maker is Ceramist Tovelise Røkke-Olsen who, with her friend Mona Sprenger, is bringing back a centuries-old pottery tradition.

The Flora Norwegica is a vase that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. It is handmade with a unique glaze and a distinctly Scandinavian style. Each one is one of a kind!

Photo: Torleif Kvinnesland

Did you study ceramics at school?

I did, at Statens Kunst og Arbeidskole, which is now called something else, and I finished with that back in 1983.

What did you do after studying?

I was down in Oslo for 20 years, until 2003, working with ceramics and sculpture the whole time – with a few extra jobs on the side to make money. Then moved back to Trondheim.

Photo: Torleif Kvinnesland

Tell us about Flora Norwegica.

It is an extremely old tradition to use. There used to be a number of factories in Trondheim that worked in the same style, but now there is none – only me.

Mona:

It all started with a green ceramic plate and a green, perforated lump. It was all that was left at a flea market at Bøler in Oslo. I brought it home.

The plate’s label said Graveren. After a bit of research, I discovered that it probably was designed by Ragnar Grimsrud. He was the artist manager for Graveren Tegleverk in Sandnes, Norway in the thirties.

One day a friend who works as a curator at the National Museum in Oslo paid me a visit. She told me that the whole story began at the Dutch court during the famous tulip mania of the 1630s. During this period the vase “Tulipere” was created. The vase had multiple holes where the stems could be inserted. It made a splash among the privileged few of the upper class who could afford the precious flower. At its peak, the price for a single tulip onion could be ten times that of what a skilled craftsman would earn in a year.

Photo: Torleif Kvinnesland

Did you have any guide to get started?

No, just started trying. I started trying it one way, but quickly found a more practical way to do it that is probably more like the traditional method.

Photo: Torleif Kvinnesland

How do you think the Trondheim art scene is? 

It is a very small environment here, but there is a good amount of fantastic artists. With ceramics, it’s a little difficult as there isn’t much education for it here. You find a little bit more down in Bergen and Oslo, but some people are coming back to Trondheim.

What is the best part about creating it?

Its very fun to work with, since its two parts, there is a lot of form and composition that you can work with. It supposed to be fun to make, so I’m always experimenting with different ways to form and glaze and everything.

It’s also fun to play with what you put in the vases, whether its flowers or random things you pick up out of the grass on your way home. You can keep things around as long as you want and change it when you want, it’s very fun.

Photo: Torleif Kvinnesland

Find out more:

Keep an eye out at Scandic hotels for some of Tovelise’s work!

Check out Flora Norwegica’s Facebook, right here, and Instagram for fantastic photos of the work, and to find out when you can take your own vase home!

Meet Your Makers: Easy Intervals

Product: Easy Intervals
Maker: Erik Hjertholm, CEO, and Founder of Easy Intervals

Photo courtesy of Easy Intervals

– When did you start and what gave you the inspiration to create your product? 

The idea behind Easy Intervals came when I was doing my previous master’s degree. The thesis we wrote was very big and challenging and it made it hard to find time to work out. I then started doing a lot of research into what’s the most efficient way of staying in shape, and I was quite disappointed when I discovered that High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was the answer, as I really hate interval training.

There is a ton of research proving that Interval training is one of the best things you can do for your body, but there are so many things you have to pay attention to while doing it, and it’s really hard to find the right resistance to keep you in the different zones you’re supposed to be in, as well as figuring out what type of interval you should do. I decided to find a solution to these problems combining what I already knew about electronics and automation with the latest research on the topic.

– Do you consider yourself a ‘maker’? Do you make other things outside of this? 

I would definitely consider myself a maker. As long as I can remember I have opened things and put them together in new ways to solve some kind of problem I had. Like when I was a kid my older brother didn’t wake up from his alarm, but I did. I took some parts from the garage and an electric motor and made a contraption that shock his whole bed in the morning. It worked like a charm, and I was never bothered by his alarm again. I must have made hundreds of small contraptions like this, and although most of them were merely a curiosity or something just for fun, it thought me a lot about how to make stuff and this has helped me a lot in developing Easy Intervals.

Photo: Torleif Kvinnesland

– Tell us a little more about the product: what makes it unique, where it is made and any special techniques? 

We decided to make a system for exercise bikes first, and after a lot of prototyping, hundreds of 3D-prints and consultation with doctors, exercise scientists, physiotherapists and professors in cybernetics and automation, we now have a working prototype as well as a letter of intent from a potential customer in the field of physiotherapy.

It really makes for a whole new experience when it comes to interval training, as it tackles all the negative aspects of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a top athlete or have never worked out before as it automatically adjusts itself to your individual fitness level and takes care of everything during the whole workout, even how fast you should pedal. One of the best features of the system is that although it makes sure you reach the required heart rate that is needed, it actually won’t allow you to do more than what is necessary. Intervals really can’t get any easier than this, and I’ve actually started to like them!

– What has the area of Trøndelag bring to your making? Could this be possible anywhere else? Would it look different if it was? 

The development of Easy Intervals would have been really hard to do anywhere else than here. The combination of scientists at the Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG) at St Olavs Hospital, professors and experts at NTNU and maker spaces like the Omega workshop supplied both the necessary knowledge and means to develop something like this. It really is a multidisciplinary project that requires expertise in many different fields, and all of them can be found right here.

Photo: Torleif Kvinnesland

– And is there something unique to the people behind it and outsider wouldn’t necessarily know, but is cool?

We are extremely stubborn! Not many people know how much effort is required to start a new company, but it is challenging in every way imaginable as you have to learn everything at once and make hard decisions every day. This requires a dedication and stubbornness you don´t find in most people. Although starting a company undoubtedly is really hard, it is also the most rewarding thing I have ever done, so it kind of balances out.

Where can we find you online?

Our website is easy-intervals.com