The Visionaries: Tekla Evelina Severin

Swedish photographer and set designer Tekla Evelina Severin is a truly modern innovator. Trained as an interior architect, Severin was compelled to switch career after joining Instagram in 2012, where her bold, beguiling photographs of building facades, architectural details, everyday objects and geometric still lifes garnered her thousands of followers, and an influx of photographic commissions. “When I graduated, all I wanted to do was interior architecture,” explains the 35-year-old, speaking from her studio near Södermalm in Stockholm. “I’ve always liked photography: I took a very classical, two-week course in high school, where I learnt to shoot and develop black-and-white images, and when I moved here 15 years ago, I used it to explore the city, but I never imagined doing it professionally.” After several years with an architecture firm however, Severin began to tire of her dream job. “I was working with very hard-to-please clients, and the process was very slow and limiting,” she says. “That’s why I decided to start experimenting with my own personal projects on Instagram.” The positive response from her followers combined with the speed and creativity of her iPhone-captured scenes inspired Severin to change tack “in baby steps”, first freelancing part time, before going it alone in 2015.

Today, Severin shoots predominantly with a digital camera, splitting her time between her own work and a diverse array of commissions, spanning architectural shoots for magazines such as Sight Unseen and Subtopia and commercial projects for interior, fashion and beauty brands, with recent exhibitions of her work in Buenos Aires, Madrid, Berlin and beyond. It’s all carried out in what she terms her “intense, graphic and colourful” aesthetic. Colours, shapes and textures have always had a marked impact on Severin: “I remember having a pink broadloom carpet in my bedroom when I was six,” she recalls. “It got bubblegum on it, and when my parents said they were going to throw it away, I just lay on it and cried.” A glance at her mesmerising Instagram feed – a masterclass in composition and complementary hues – demonstrates the photographer’s extraordinary ability to translate this passion to film, whether capturing a bunch of furled, black calla lilies, backed by a dusty orange wall, or the pink, linear forms of Ricardo Bofill’s Spanish postmodern gem La Muralla Roja imposed against an azure sky.

“The way I approach angles I owe to my architectural background,” says Severin of her unique use of perspective, “and architecture is still one of my biggest influences. The postmodernists – Bofill, Ricardo Legorreta, Richard England, Luis Barragán – are my favourites.” Meanwhile the photographer’s colour heroes range from American artist and architect Erin O’Keeffe to Le Corbusier (“a classic colour icon”) and the paintings of French artist and designer Nathalie du Pasquier. But it is travel, she says, that has really opened her eyes. “We never travelled as a family, so I’ve come to it pretty late in life, but now I can’t get enough. I love sunny places like Spain and California, where the architecture gleams.” Top of her still-to-visit list are Mexico, Tokyo and Santorini while forthcoming projects include a campaign for Levi’s, a collaboration with Danish furniture company Muuto, and a freelance interior architecture project with a friend, her “first for a long time”. “I used to think I was a very safe person, who wanted to do just one thing,” says the now-fully-fledged multidisciplinarian laughing, “but I’ve come to realise that I’m not at all!”


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