Words: Linn Wiberg / Photography: Frida Vega Salomonsson
Göran Kling is no ordinary jewellery designer. His chunky gold and silver rings are individually cast to make each one unique and his playful designs are worn by the likes of A$AP Rocky, Silvana Imam, Adam Tensta and Tove Styrke.
What was the first piece of jewellery you ever bought?– I was in London with my parents and spotted a silver ring in a souvenir shop. It had a snake on it, twisting between the eyes of two skulls, and it was the best thing I’d ever seen. I decided right there and then that I wanted to design jewellery when I grew up.
You spent five years at Konstfack art school, where pupils are encouraged to reflect on life’s big questions. Any pearls of wisdom you want to share with us?– Haha, definitely! I don’t know how far I got with that. But it’s brilliant to spend a few years trying things out, without having to make money from your work. In fact, it can come as a shock when school’s done and you’re out in the real world again!
I had a seven-year break between my third and fourth year, so school felt quite different when I went back. By that time, I knew what I wanted to do, so it felt like a luxury to be there and just do fun things all day.
How do you think our attitude towards jewellery is changing?– Jewellery probably has the same function now that it did in the past. It’s worn for personal reasons – often to mark a significant event like a confirmation, graduation or engagement.
But in the past two or three years, guys have started buying much more jewellery for themselves. Before, men’s jewellery was mostly simple bracelets and ID badges. Now, guys want something different – and that’s fantastic!
Your designs have been worn by musicians like Silvana Imam, Adam Tensta and Tove Styrke. Who else would you like to kit out? – I really like Young Thug’s style. And Thåström was my idol as a child, so it’d be fun to design for him too.
Why do you think musicians are drawn to your work?– My pieces are pretty large and expressive, so they work well on camera or on stage. Custom-made jewellery hasn’t really been a thing in Sweden before, so the fact that my pieces are unique has probably helped me reach people who want something out of the ordinary.
What assumptions do people make about you?– I don’t reveal much of myself on social media. So when people visit me in my studio, I can tell they sometimes have a different idea of who I really am. Maybe they think it’s Ben Baller that’ll open the door, but I’m a pretty normal person.
Do people make assumptions about your taste in music?– You can’t really tell what music people listen to any more. Because of my jewellery, I think people assume I only listen to rap, but that’s really not true.
What’s your earliest musical memory?– We had one of those mixtapes from a petrol station in our car when I was little. It had 'Street Dance' by Break Machine on it. I remember liking it a lot, because it had whistling in the hook and a synth solo. I’d like to give a big shout out to Clabbe af Geijerstam, who talked between the tracks!
When has music played a particularly important role in your life?– I think music is always crucial! When I was little and heard Ebba Grön for the first time, it was like the whole world was different after that.
Before the internet, music acted as a sort of portal to subcultures that otherwise you’d never have known about. Nowadays, music might not play the same role, but it’s still so exciting to find new artists that sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before.
Tell us about an artist, album or a song that means something special to you.– I lived in the US in 1994 and borrowed 'AmeriKKKa´s Nightmare' by Spice 1 from a classmate. It had that typical Bay Area sound, yet was pretty hardcore at the same time. It completely knocked me out and I listened to that CD until it broke.
But the record I’ve listened to most is probably Simon and Garfunkel – 'The Concert in Central Park (Live)'. Every night of my teens, I played it before going to sleep.
And finally, what are your guilty pleasures in terms of music?– I’ve got playlists filled with music I wouldn’t listen to with anyone else around! But I quite often play 'Bad Boys' by Inner Circle when I’m feeling in the mood.