Snapshots From Norway With GmbH's Benjamin Alexander Huseby
Four years ago the acclaimed artist and fashion photographer Benjamin Alexander Huseby teamed up with fellow clothing fanatic Serhat Isik to form GmbH. The Berlin-based fashion sensation takes its cues from the German capital’s club culture, but it’s the glory of nature that excites Benjamin more than anything else. Here, he dives into his archive overflowing with memories of his home country, Norway. It’s a picture-perfect universe of self-picked food, lead red farms and barns, hikes, canoe trips and skiing to school...
“The countryside has a slower pace. Have you noticed? People in cities talk faster. I miss the countryside every day, every morning when I wake up. I love Berlin but I just wish I could step out into a beautiful garden instead of on a city street. And Berlin isn’t even that bad; I cycle everywhere and it’s easy to get out of town, with accessible lakes and forests nearby. It’s nothing compared the Norwegian landscape but it still gives you that injection of nature that you desperately need sometimes.”
“This farm with its typical red barn is very close to where I grew up. This is exactly what everything looks like where I’m from. Fields and farms and forest. With a big lake nearby. That’s it. As you get older you get to appreciate those things even more. I mean, when you’re a child growing up, it’s the most normal thing that you go skiing to kindergarten, until you realise that not everybody is growing up that way. As a teenager I hated it all, of course, and I just wanted to move to London because of the music and the fashion there.”
“This is me. My mom took this picture.”
"In kindergarten we’d go foraging for food. You would just pick up things. I remember walking to school barefoot and just trying things, tasting things. Like, you know, you’d heard from your grandparents that you could eat this or that fruit. Or the sap that comes out of pine trees, it’s a bit chewy so we’d pretend it was chewing gum. Or we’d put a wooden stick in an ants’ nest and they’d pee on it and it gives this acidic taste, like sour candy. Years later I made a book called Weeds & Aliens of all these edible plants that I found in Berlin on the way from my home to the studio. I’ve always been interested in science books and flora & fauna encyclopedias. Do I still pick food here in Berlin? Not so much, maybe some elderflower. There are too many people and too many dogs."
“Here’s Serhat with a husky dog, this was on a dog sledding trip. What we do with GmbH is not exactly pastoral, but I think there’s a touch of the rural in our designs. Serhat and I both love animals, nature as a whole. Little hints. For instance we’re using the motif of a stinging nettle as prints and embroidery on a lot of clothes. It may not exactly be the look of the farmhand, but there’s some pragmatism in our designs. It’s clothes that you can wear every day and be active in.”
"With mushrooms, you just know when they’re poisonous, you know? It’s like, how do you recognise someone you know? It’s not that complicated with mushrooms, but I think people are scared because mushrooms can actually kill you. It’s not something to play with. Some mushrooms are really nasty, and you might be fine eating them for ten years and then eleventh year all your organs fail. It’s not something you want to play with.”
“Finally after all these years we felt confident enough about the way we work in terms of environmental and social responsibilities to put our policy on our website, so you can read it all there if you want to. We’re doing our best using as little virgin material as possible, either using deadstock material or recycled or organic or biodegradable fabrics and packaging. It’s very important to us. We try to keep production as close to our studio as possible. Our aim is to be carbon neutral within a year. The biggest issue with that is the effort it takes to calculate everything; it takes a lot of manpower. We really always work on improving, and we’re currently part of this group of designers discussing how to move forward with our industry. There’s no way we can allow ourselves to come out of this Coronavirus crisis and not change anything and just pretend we can go on as normal. This moment is a great opportunity for change.”
“This is me on Rondeslottet, one of Norway's highest mountains. I was on this completely magical trip with my sister, cycling at midnight, looking at the northern lights at sunset, over the mountains. I remember it as very, very special. Of course we’ve seen the northern lights many times. It’s not that rare in Norway, especially in winter, but it’s always beautiful and magical. Sorry, I’m just rambling.”
Interview by Gert Jonkers