If art is love, then Love Hultén is more than aptly named. The self-professed purveyor of “craftporn” (yep, it’s a thing) coupled with highly technological influences is veritably boundless in his conceptualizations. His eponymous brand reflects his commitment to design and craftsmanship in its purest form—pure, that is, with avant-garde twists that set his masterpieces apart.
You have to give it up for a designer who knows precisely what he wants of his brand. Swedish-born artist Love Hultén grew up ripping up electronic toys. His fascination wasn’t quite so much with the toy itself, but with what went on inside. Those intricacies consumed him, so much so that he eventually enrolled in a design school in Gothenburg.
[His] love for nostalgia, combined with his masterful understanding of handcraftsmanship, inspired him to develop his own line of unique, artisan pieces.
His early explorations and experimentations were partially fueled by a passion for everything vintage. It wasn’t just the odd plaything or video game that drew his attention, but everything about the concepts themselves. That love for nostalgia, combined with his masterful understanding of handcraftsmanship, inspired him to develop his own line of unique, artisan pieces.
The designer’s collection follows in the footsteps of so many storied Scandinavian artists who came before him. Swedish woodworking and carving techniques are the stuff of legend—indeed, many of the country’s most respected artisans built their legacies on a rich heritage of generations that came before them.
Hulten, too, enjoyed the prestige of family trade, and he drew on those old-world methods to create a highly modern range of pieces that captures the mirth and lighthearted appeal of popular culture. His father was an accomplished cabinetmaker. Baked into each design, however, is an appreciation for technology. The end result is a collection of pieces that’s at once loud and playful, quirky and irreverent, and charming and disarming.
In short, it’s difficult not to be enthralled by something as unexpected as a coffee table featuring pull-out arcade controls or a miniature game console that looks like a prehistoric Nintendo Game Boy. It’s all in good fun—and is steeped in tradition, for at the heart of every Love Hultén creation is strict attention to detail, a lack of excess, and a nod to individualism, minimalism, and cleanliness.
Hulten maintains his workshop and studio in Konstepidemin, a humble space in Gothenburg where some 130 artists preside. Here, creativity is king—and the artisans who keep their studios there are committed to infecting their public with a passion for craft. Infect is truly the key word. The buildings in Konstepidemin were once home to the city’s Epidemical Hospital, where, from the late 19th century to the late 20th century, doctors treated various epidemic diseases. In 1987, the area was transformed into an art collective—a bohemian sort of escape where creatives could gather, connect, and make.
In 1987, the area was transformed into an art collective—a bohemian sort of escape where creatives could gather, connect, and make.
It was the perfect home for Hulten, who claims his basement studio once served as the nurses’ communal laundry room. It’s an impressive, if rather small, space where Hulten maintains a crisp layout and keeps most of his tools on wheels. That ensures convenience and accessibility, making it simple to procure the necessary parts without much effort while tooling around in his shop. Even his tool cabinet exhibits a sense of no-fuss Scandinavian style, what with its bolt hangers and dividers that make it simple for him to find the most minuscule of components.
While he’s all about contemporary creations, there’s no question that Hulten also remains committed to what’s tried and true. He once experimented with a three-dimensional printer, only to be left disappointed with the results. It was the first and only time he delved into that dimension, opting instead to use a laser cutter for the clean, flawless lines it produced. Using the cutter is a testament to his attention to detail. Hulten uses it to make control panels that he places on many of his designs.
Perhaps no single item in the workshop offers a greater reminder of his past—and a nod to his passion for vintage—than the green band saw that oversees the space. It once belonged to his father, and today it plays a significant role in Hulten’s design processes.
What sets Hulten apart from his peers isn’t so much his unique interests, although those allow him to create one-of-a-kind pieces that are unlikely to occur elsewhere. It’s ultimately his hyper-focused attention to detail that lends each design a certain sense of pride and endurance.
Hulten builds every single item from scratch and by hand. It begins with a detailed design process that eventually leads to the building stage. From there, he polishes the components and assembles the product. He even designs the packaging associated with each item. He thinks of himself as a one-man chain, in some ways, and his final creations are proof that such authority has the power to deliver pure magic. And how could it not? Hulten isn’t just the only laborer, but also the only decision-maker. He admits to being something of a control freak, which he lauds as part of his success.
Anyone who has ever bandied in the world of pop culture knows what type of excitement a new object of intrigue can drum up. Hulten designs those types of products—those that seemed destined for new lives of their own once they leave the workshop, that capture the starry sights of a Tinseltown resident just waiting to claim they’ve discovered the next big thing.
The magnificent R-Kaid-R, something any Hulten devotee recognizes at a glance, made a big-stage appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and it was met with Fallon’s standard brand of awe-inspired enthusiasm. For once, that was understandable, as the brass and walnut device was one of just 50 ever produced. It played a number of retro video games, including Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.
And Kanye West, whose presidential aspirations have not gone unnoticed, did something considerably more admirable in 2020—he hit up Kid Cudi’s joint and played Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on a wall-mounted Hulten OriginX computer. That design was inspired, at least in part, by the cabinet that housed Pong back in the 1970s.
The sheer beauty of every Hulten design is nearly impossible to resist. The designer has a knack for using materials that somehow get better with time—quite literally, as most of them form a stunning patina as they age. That alone lends them a certain collector-worthy quality that is highly appealing to anyone willing to drop several thousand on a vintage-style art piece. That most products are limited edition seals the deal.
While the designs are in and of themselves deeply complex, thoughtful, and beautifully articulated, the aesthetic result strikes a no-fuss tone.
The less-is-more adage applies here, and it’s something that Hulten takes seriously. While the designs are in and of themselves deeply complex, thoughtful, and beautifully articulated, the aesthetic result strikes a no-fuss tone. That renders them timeless, minimal, clear, and crisply defined.
Such innovative use of immaculate components and meticulous workmanship could only yield pieces of pure quality. Indeed, every item has an artful vibe about it, and one suspects that an investor would be perfectly happy to leave the item boxed up, as is, for a lifetime. There’s a “too beautiful to use” feeling about most of them—even the video game consoles, which, by any other standard, would be reserved strictly for unabashed play.
But Hulten breathes new life into the old standards. His R-Kaid-R was made with a genuine joystick and had the capability to store up to 10,000 games. The R-Kaid 42, meanwhile, was designed to serve two players. It featured a pair of wireless joysticks that players could use to navigate across the screen.
His appreciation for all things technology inspired him to create the Golden Apple in 2015. It was essentially a miniature recreation of the Apple Macintosh computer of 1984. Made with handsome walnut wood, it bore the instinctual appeal of a true vintage piece, with hints of modernity that brought new life to an old classic. It came complete with a wooden mouse, a sturdy keyboard, and a disc drive.
Furniture, too, is a part of the Hulten repertoire, and it’s a most welcome addition to the fray. The Pixelkabinett 42, made with walnut wood, serves as an eye-catching piece of home décor—but also provides a little bit of fun courtesy of its flip-top screen. Then, it behaves as a regular arcade game, complete with a JAMMA computer, joysticks, and knobs that channel hints of the past.
Today, Hulten continues to create and inspire. His Instagram page is a breath of fresh air, showcasing everything from his old favorites to new experiments. A recent armchair and daybed combination crafted of Swedish pine caught the attention of his adoring public. He’s all about customization and personalization—one can’t simply pop into a shop in Sweden and grab a Hulten.
Each item is handmade to order, and Hulten even accepts special requests. Because there is no stock supply available, it may be a while before you take delivery of the product. But the humbling attention to detail of every project, coupled with Hulten’s sheer love of craft, makes the wait worth every second.