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Originally from Sweden, Kristina Fassberg studied business and graphic art there as well as in the United States. She now runs Creative Playware, a jewelry and home accessories company based in San Rafael that utilizes LEGO® elements in fun ways. Read on to learn more about Kristina, one of 17 participants in this year's Holiday Artisan Fair at the de Young, and why the Museum Café happens to be the highlight of her own visits!

Creative Playware

This is your first time being featured at the Holiday Artisan Fair – tell us about yourself!

I am a Bay Area-based designer who works exclusively with LEGO® elements. I’m most excited about introducing my line of 3D pendants and earrings. The pendants are like mini-canvases, just made out of LEGO plates and using LEGO bricks as “paint” and “clay.” The material and the format are a lot of fun to work with! I hope the de Young Holiday Artisan Fair customers will find my designs a different take on a nostalgic toy.

Why LEGOS®?

I grew up playing with LEGO® bricks and I still own every brick I played with as a child. These days LEGO® bricks come in many shapes and colors, but I tend to gravitate towards the original block-shaped bricks in black and white, and primary colors. There is something alluring in the limitation of the basic square and rectangular shapes, yet endless possibilities of an interlocking block. I think it is an ingenious toy and a beautiful material. It gives my designs an architectural, clean finish.

I got the inspiration for my business after my seven-year old son (at the time) gave me a creation that he had made out of LEGO® bricks. I strung it on a necklace and wore it that day and got a lot of compliments. Inspired by the idea, I started experimenting with different shapes and colors. A couple of months later, with the encouragement of friends and family, a few sales and many prototypes later, I decided to start my design firm Creative Playware.

Where does your company’s name come from?

I wanted a name that was as flexible as the material I had chosen to work with. In other words, I did not want to build myself into a corner (no pun intended) by including “jewelry” or any other specific product in the name. And I am glad I thought that through since some of my most popular my product lines now include home and desk accessories like wine stoppers, wine charms, and magnetic paperclip holders, as well as key charms.

When it comes to designing, what are essential tools you keep in your studio?

Pen and paper! I sketch and draw a lot. I am particularly fond of working with a very thin black felt tip or gel pen. And Post-It notes! I write myself a lot of reminder notes.

I also always have a new product idea sitting (half done) next to my computer. Letting things “sit” for a while allows me time to see things differently and that is when you get the best ideas, the “Aha Moments.” You make modifications in design as well as color scheme, or decide to turn it into a whole different product! So I guess LEGO® bricks are a “must have” in my studio as well. 

What artists or style of art currently interests you?

I love the work done by contemporary artist and architects who were part of the de Dutch “Stijl movement” like Piet Mondrian and Gerrit Rietveld. I’m also influenced by the German design movement Bauhaus, especially the architecture and furniture with its simplified forms and functionality.

Other favorite artists and architects are Charles Rennie Mackintosh, M. C. Escher, Daniel Buren, Gene Davis, Anne Truitt, Sean Scully, Ellsworth Kelly, Yves Klein, and Dario Escobar.

Do you have a special memory from ever visiting the de Young? Where is your favorite place in the museum?

“The Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” exhibit in 2009-2010 left a huge impression on me. I have always been attracted to the mysteries of the Ancient World and this exhibit was stunning. And the more recent “Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective” at the de Young was fantastic! The clothes, the displays… so inspiring! My personal favorite part of museum is the Museum Café; I love digesting all the visual impressions over a good cup of coffee (the mochas they serve in the Café are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G).

It’s true. Thanks for being at this year’s Holiday Artisan Fair. We look forward to having you November 18 and 19!

Thank you.

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