Welcome to the home page of FINE DESIGN.
Working as an artist “husband and wife” team, we have been designing and carving low relief architectural ornaments for residential and commercial clients since 1991.
Our work is inspired by Mediterranean stonework of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. However, we enjoy working with designs from all styles and eras. Most projects are residential, but clients also include restaurants, hotels and wineries.
The ornaments are carved in a reconstituted limestone product, which is applied as a wet slurry to stone surfaces previously created by licensed faux stone applicators. These licensed applicators specialize in applying the lime stone coating to interior and exterior walls, framed fire place mantels, wine cellars and other areas where an authentic stone look is desired. We then add our carving on top of this existing layer to further enhance the stone work.
The ornaments are all hand carved while the stone material is still soft, allowing the use of ordinary clay and plaster tools. However, Åke often creates special tools needed for specific carving tasks. The material sets up completely in 8 hours or less, so speed is of the essence!
All ornaments are carved by hand, molds and castings are never used. Each carving is unique. Åke designs and hand draws all patterns needed for the carvings. One of the highlights of this job for him is studying books and pictures of beautiful, old patterns which can then serve as inspirations for his own designs. Leslie takes the patterns and transforms them into hand cut stencils, each one unique. We then work together to apply the stone material and shape the carving. As a final step, stone surfaces and carvings are often stained and distressed to give them an “antique" appearance.
Åke was born in Hjo, Sweden where his parents owned a ceramics factory, Guldkroken AB, which produced table wares and gift items for the Scandinavian market. In that creative atmosphere, he quickly learned to love designing and modeling objects in clay and plaster. “Growing up in Sweden, surrounded by historical landmarks, I developed a deep appreciation for the architecture of the past. Trips to southern Europe reinforced this love. I feel very lucky to be part of a long tradition of working with designs and shapes developed and used by artists and craftsmen throughout the ages”.
In the late 1970’s, we met while studying art at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California. After completing our studies, we moved to Sweden to work as designers for the family ceramic factory.
We relocated to California in 1984 and have made the island city of Alameda, in the San Francisco Bay Area, our home. We have a daughter, Naomi, who sometimes assists with the carving work when she is not busy attending school at Yale.
Please visit other pages on this web site which highlight Åke’s and Leslie's individual art work. Also, you can explore the Collaborations page which highlights art projects we have participated in, many of which are connected to Burning Man, an annual outdoor art event in the Nevada desert.
C hildhood summers spent in the stark granite landscape of the Swedish Atlantic coast, as well as more recent visits to the powerful mountains and beaches of Northern California. have developed in me, an overwhelming sense of connectedness to Nature. I wish to express this affinity by rendering my own image directly onto the raw surface of natural material, such as bark, sand or stone, merging the figure with the ground upon which it is painted.“Climber”, a 1986 self portrait, also addresses our vulnerability when engaged in this relationship. Nature’s forces, beyond our control, make our existence a precarious one.
Many of my paintings deal with the intense experience of being at the sea shore. Carefully observing the powerful surf, or interacting with the landscape through my shadow, are two ways by which I attempt to heighten my awareness of this most magical place.
I am greatly influenced by the ancient Swedish rock carvings as well as by the master craftsmanship of the pre- and early renaissance artists. Presently, I am exploring traditional fresco techniques in my painting work.
In recent years, I have been very inspired by the art of Burning Man, the fabulous, annual art and living experiment in the Nevada Desert. The sculpture " Sense of Direction" was displayed there during the 2005 Burning Man festival. In 2007 and 2009, I was part of a group of artists and fabricators, who created large scale art installations for the Burning Man event.