On the eve of the launch of Peak Performance’s collaboration with cult British designer Nigel Cabourn, The Forumist talked to eight creatives whose dedication to achieving their dreams reflects these fashion forces’ devotion to their craft.
Complete devotion means having a passion for something that translates into everything you do – the way you think, what you create and every step forward you take. Devotees comes in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing that ties them together is an unfaltering dedication to continue doing what inspires them.
For their first design collaboration in their 30-year history, the high-tech outerwear specialists Peak Performance turned to the renowned British designer Nigel Cabourn, who has made it his lifelong pursuit to collect and become an expert in vintage global army apparel. This skilful fusing of talent has reinvented the classic functionality and aura of historic pieces, resulting in a stunning FW17 collection. Each of the 20 unisex pieces has been carefully designed with special attention to quality and utility, breathing new life into garments with a long history. And this collection was never about following trends. Everyone involved with it has a deep understanding of what it means to be committed to your craft – behind every visionary is a story.
The Forumist spoke with eight creative devotees who have turned their dreams into reality. But these stories are just snapshots of their journeys – whether in music on interior design – as they relentlessly pursue their passion. For them, it’s not just about achieving one goal, job or a hobby. This is real devotion.
Robin Nyström, aka Mwuana, has been devoted to his music from a young age, developing his melodic sing-rap style over the years. With a total – “not scheduled” – dedication to creation, Nyström has developed into a visionary and entrepreneur, becoming what he calls “a multi-creative” in many different areas.
“This passion is often just a romantic glint from this problem you are trying to solve,” he explains. “It’s like a mystery that constantly haunts you, and you just want to crack the code.” During the years he has spent developing his sound, he has learnt to prioritise his creativity so he can focus on projects that he is passionate about seeing through to the end. “It’s as if devotion comes to you and makes your life more meaningful and interesting, but there are also long periods when you feel lost, not sure of what you’re actually doing. But I believe that as soon as a person finds their calling, devotion automatically kicks in.”
Continuing his story, he tells us: “It started with one goal, actually more like one mission. And the further the mission went, the bigger the vision got.” This is an artist who has come a long way from where he began. Growing up in a suburb outside Stockholm, Nyström relied on street smarts to get to where he is now. “I always seem to take on more projects than it’s possible to manage, but I’m driven by the feeling of learning new things and, most of all, finishing and completing the things that are meant to grow.”
For the casting director Helin Honung, devotion used to be about time – the hours you spend working and obsessing about one thing. But it was only when she got into casting, she truly understood what it meant. “As time went by, I understood that, for me, it’s in the challenges, the development and the learning,” she says.
Growing up deeply rooted to the idea that she would become a fashion designer, Honung’s life took a 360-degree turn when she decided to make a change. “Out of the blue, a producer asked me to cast one of her productions,” she explains. “I felt I had nothing to lose if I did it.” From that moment on, Honung found her true devotion within the fashion world. As a casting director, she has a creative calling that challenges her every day and teaches her something new.
She may not have had a background of working for an agency or in production, but it is her total dedication to personal development that helps her overcome daily obstacles. “I’ve always been afraid of failing and I still am, but something that I never thought I’d apply to myself is the beauty of asking people for help,” she says. “We all have our own struggles in life. I guess I’m seeking the perfect balance, and that’s what keeps me going.”
Although she has gone through phases in other music genres, Sandra Mosh has always felt an “uncontrollable draw” pulling her towards electronic music. “People often talk about those moments of flow, when you are so deep into the creative process that you fall into this trance-like state of mind,” she tells us. “I first found this flow through techno.” Now she’s a DJ, producer and founder of her own label, MOSH Musik, so it’s safe to say she has found her musical home in techno.
“For me, there’s nothing more personal than sharing your tracks with the world,” Mosh tells us. As she became more skilled as a DJ and got more involved in the scene, producing music felt natural. Feeling such a strong impulse to create is what led to her founding her own label as a platform to release what she liked, whenever she wanted. Mosh debuted at the Berlin nightclub Berghain last year, an experience that she has been devoted to accomplishing for a long time. “I can honestly say
I walked out there and thought, ‘I can die happy now,’” she reminisces.
When she’s making music, Mosh visualises it in her own head, but she explains that playing for an audience is also a moment of creation. “When something real is actually being created in that moment, that’s the best feeling in the world. That’s zen to me.”
At his core, Axel Wannberg is a woodworker whose passion for his craft has become his career. His endless devotion to perfecting lines, curves and spaces keeps him busy as a freelance cabinet-maker and furniture designer for high-profile clients in Stockholm and around the world.
He realised working with wood was his calling after he bought an old mahogany boat when he was 18 and started renovating it. After a five-year education in boatbuilding and cabinet making, he started his own workshop. “I get really inspired by minimalistic sculptors from the ’60s and ’70s,” he says. Constantly expanding on his own technical knowledge, he also finds inspiration by visiting niche companies, “like acrylic plastic specialists or companies that specialise in metal surface treatments”.
At first, he designed and built his own projects, but now his work mainly revolves around commissions. He often works alone, but enjoys collaborating with a team that can add to what he does. “Since I have more of a technical-orientated background, I find working with people of a more artistic background the most interesting and complementary.”
Every day Wannberg is in his studio or office, poring over and perfecting sketches and blueprints before starting to build. “I eat, sleep and dream my work,” he says. “And I don’t feel like it’s my job – it’s my biggest passion and I’m lucky to get paid to do it. And it’s been like that for the past 10 years.”
Though he’s an introvert at heart, Ludvig Blom is a strategic advisor and digital producer who works with tons of people and clients, attending meetings every day. His is a fast-paced career that requires technological and creative innovation, so we were curious about what devotion means to him. “Never fail to sweat the details and always be prepared to run the extra mile,” he replies. “In the end, it’s all about delivering valuable, feasible and usable solutions for my clients.”
Blom’s schedule is packed: he’s always working and meeting deadlines, but this goes hand in hand with being totally committed to digital production. He finds his inspiration in the fast pace of big cities and does his best to embrace each challenge he faces. “The more challenges and obstacles you run into, the more you develop as a person.”
Blom holds skill in high esteem and makes it a priority to collaborate with a team of people with a diverse range of expertise. “I prefer to be among cross-functional teams of specialists. You learn so much, and I also like it if people are a bit different and fun.” His devotion is far from reaching an end point. “I consider it more as a journey,” Blom says.
For Julia Thelin, filmmaking is about surrendering herself to the artistic process and coming to terms with not being in control. “It sounds pretentious, but for me it has something to do with what is outside of myself, with being connected to something bigger,” she says. For her, it is that passion and lack of control that drives her forward and helps her make decisions: “My devotion pushes me to dare to do more things.”
Filmmaking is a way for her to disconnect from reality while also creating it. “To create is to dig deeper into yourself and not be aware of it because you’re so absorbed in the process,” Thelin explains. She questions gender structures and roles in her work, inspired by the complexity of human behaviour and social systems. “Although, ‘inspired’ is a weird word for something that makes you angry,” she adds. “I look at it more as fascination.”
Thelin’s ambition is to expand the way people experience film and the way film looks. “I think I need to take a hell of a journey for that,” she says. “To be devoted means making choices that always have to do with my creative work, indirectly or directly.”
Songwriter Michel Dida doesn’t mince words when it comes to his passion. “Devotion is being dumb enough to ignore everyone’s advice and spend your entire life pursuing some weird interest that you have,” he says. Dida lives his life with no end goal in mind and says he can do without the rewards.
He got into hip-hop in 1995. “We started off by recording gibberish on cassette tapes over instrumental B-sides and that pretty much sealed the deal,” he says. Although he has featured on plenty of mixes, Dida describes himself as a lone wolf: “There are just not that many people I can trust with all these strange ideas floating around in here, you know.”
But this artist has a formula for harnessing his creative process. He makes his music in total seclusion, away from all social interactions, so he can be alone with his own thoughts. “Just sitting in a dark room for, like, a week, that’s how I write my music. I isolate myself. I don’t answer my phone. I feed the birds on the balcony, but I don’t meet up for fikas. That’s when I’m at my total peak. That is my formula.”
A contemporary artist and curator with a special passion for space relations and collaboration, Joanna Nordin has worked in both fashion and art in New York, and achieved her master’s in fine art at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. “I love not knowing what’s around the next corner,” she tells us. “Unexpected conversations, events and collaborations give me tons of energy and inspiration.”
In her artwork, Nordin spends hours making large-scale installations and conceptual found-object sculptures. Recently she became a curator of contemporary art for Sörmlands museum in Nyköping, which will open next year. This new job has expanded her devotion within the art world. “I’m excited to get to be part of making it, and seeing it develop.” The must important thing to Nordin is her integrity. “I believe it’s the key to devotion,” she explains. “As long as you keep things close to your heart and do what you really want, being devoted to it will follow naturally.”
Her transition as an artist into curating has made perfect sense. During art school, Nordin “was never able to make just one work”, and instead spent time thinking about how things related to each other, making entire shows. “I think exhibition-making was always in the back of my mind,” she says. “I’m really grateful that I get to do what I love and do it full-time.” She sees her job as another step in her journey. “Devotion isn’t an end goal, it’s an outcome of your interests and your curiosity.”
The FW17 Peak Performance x Nigel Cabourn collection launches on October 5
Photography by John Scarisbrick
Styling by Emma Thorstrand
Make-up and hair by Lillis Hemmingsson
Words by Eimi Tagore-Erwin
Special thanks to Peak Performance
Talents: Mwuana, Helin Honung, Sandra Mosh, Ludvig Blom, Axel Wannberg, Joanna Nordin, Julia Thelin and Michel Dida
Studio: Peas & Understanding Studio
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