The V&A shop is one of those museum venues that has become a destination in its own right, much of which should be credited to the amazing range of design objects, jewellery and accessorize. It’s popularity has spread far beyond the usual museumgoers. Every self-respecting London fashionista pays regular visits to the shop in search of old styles and new names. When we walked into the V&A shop after the spectacular Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty show this summer and were mesmerized by the exhibition setting and bespoke artistic clothing of Mr. McQueen, we thought nothing could more inspiring, but we were mistaken.

The central glass display situated prominently in the shop caught our attention because of its futuristic design, original shape and a strong creative energy breaking out of it. Inside the glass case were some very special items of eyewear created by designer Anna-Karin Karlsson.

Karlsson started working in eyewear fashion with one of the oldest opticians in London when she was only 19. Growing up as a professional around the Mayfair area she was deeply influenced by fashion and the creativity of McQueen and Formichetti. Another strong inspiration was the London underground music scene in which Anna-Karin became an active participant, recording her own tracks and signing with prominent labels.

It was a combination of traditional techniques of eyewear design, endless imagination and artistic talent that made her create her own eyewear design brand House of Karlsson, which received a prestigious, premier award in Swedish fashion.

Museeum met up with Anna-Karin Karlsson to find out more about the sources of her inspiration and future plans.

© Jesper & Mathias
© Jesper & Mathias

According to our survey the V&A shop is a #1 museum shop for art and fashion enthusiasts. And when you see the display of Anna-Karin Karlsson eyewear you understand why - it is an eye-catching artwork in itself.

How was the idea of this collaboration born?

We were approached by the V&A at London Fashion Week and the discussions around the display started off. It was a great honour for me to be invited and to show my designs during the great Alexander Mc Queen exhibition Savage Beauty as well as London fashion week. The end result was beautiful and I think that my work was displayed in a beautiful setting where my images and designs could really speak.

You previously mentioned that your creative vision was hugely influenced by music and art. Any specific artists or art movements that inspired your style?

Actually, when it comes to art I am more of a producer than consumer. I prefer to stay home and paint than go to an exhibition. But with that said, I love French cinema, adore Eric Satie and I admire artists like Marc Chagall and Francesca Woodman.

Are you a museum lover or, even, a museum shopper yourself? Where do you usually go to get your dose of art energy?

I have too little time to go to museums and maybe I am too impatient to enjoy it fully. But the V&A is and has been my favorite museum in the world for a long time. Long before I had this fantastic opportunity to show my own work there.

I get inspiration from aspects of life I guess. But Life is best translated through creative practices, be it a scene from a movie, a part of a song or light in an image.


If you could create an eyewear design for any art person, dead or alive, who would that be and what would it look like?

I would have loved to create a piece not for but with Alexander McQueen and let our minds entwine.

Is it possible to buy your designs in any other museum shop around the world apart from the V&A one?

Berns Hotel in Stockholm is not a museum shop but I am currently exhibiting my photographic work there, so maybe the question should be if I can be seen in any exhibitions or at any other museums?

From the 22nd of August and a month on I am exhibiting my photographic work at Berns Hotel in Stockholm. The exhibition “Decadence”, from the campaign shoot for my eyewear collection with the same name was a collaboration between myself as artist and visionary, the fashion activist superstar Bea Åkerlund and the photographer Ekaterina Belinskaya.

©  Jesper & Mathias
© Jesper & Mathias