PEOPLEText: Victor Moreno
Swedish product designer and mastercraftsman Love Hultén whose designs have gone viral – especially on Instagram – takes game consoles and synthesizers to the next level because of their wacky, playful personalized designs. Working alone in his studio on the Swedish west coast, he combines traditional craftsmanship with modern technology and a distinctive, humorous twist. He dares to tear apart expensive equipment to transform them into something more precious with new setups that also sound glorious. Hence he has received commissioned work from all over the world from savvy clients seeking the ultimate, custom-made game or sound unit. Surprisingly, most of his clients are US-based and Japan hasn’t really looked into his neo-nostalgic style yet. Eminem, ASAP Rocky, Michael B Jordan are some of the artists who have already ordered Hultén to build some of his otherworldly units. Recently he published his first book with a selection of his body of work to date and has exhibited “Apparatum”, an installation exploring a new artistic route, more focused on form and design and less electronic and functionality.
© Love Hultén
How did the idea of building your own synths and consoles come about?
As a young boy I used to tear electronics apart trying to understand their insides. I guess I’ve always had a thing for that. During my bachelor years at Design HDK-Valand in 2010 I stumbled upon wood and fell in love. I started to combine woodworking with electronics the very first year and made a wooden desktop computer. And I just kept making stuff, game consoles and other audiovisual contraptions that combine traditional craftsmanship with modern technology. I was raised by arcade games and ended up doing a tribute cabinet piece for my bachelor exam in 2014. That piece went pretty viral and I started taking my first orders. The gaming industry is pretty monotonous and I guess I offered something different. I had no competition and that put my pieces in the spotlight and gave me a lot of creative freedom.
THE GOLDEN APPLE – Macintosh 128K replica made from American walnut and brass © Love Hultén
Why synths then?
I did arcade cabinets for a lot of years and grew tired of repeating myself eventually. Needed something new. I was playing in a post-punk band at the time and had a new found passion for analog synths, so there it was. I didn’t expect it to work from a selling point at all, I just wanted to have some fun. I’ve been doing commissioned synths for over 3 years now so I guess I’m doing something right.
Stepper Motor Synth © Love Hultén
Did you study some designers or people who have inspired you to do what you do?
Not really, I think I get inspiration from daily impressions just walking around. Dieter Rams’ perspectives on design have always been a big influence for me, no doubt – But my visions are generally based on an attraction for objects of mystique. I just want to give my personal view on the world and present an alternative. I play a lot with values and standards, suggesting a different perspective on how to relate and interact with objects. The smashed-up references in my work have a triggering effect I think.
Is nostalgia something valuable for you?
Nostalgia is involved to a certain extent, yes, but it’s not looking backwards. It’s taking steps in different directions simultaneously by using fragments from both the past and today, creating unique and balanced objects.
You have your own studio and workshop in Gothenburg, on the Swedish west coast. Do you have everything you need there or do you need to assemble other pieces from somewhere else?
I have a very small studio and have to be sparse with tools. It’s very tight in there, but I have trolley wheels on everything and can rearrange the studio as I please. Might need a bigger space in the future, but I’m okay with working here at the moment. Can’t have too many projects running though since I can’t keep stock.
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