Johanna Jonsson Abchée, founder of contemporary mirror brand, Karma J is the latest artist in residence in the Boulangerie as part of the Aspiring Artists Initiative. Raised in Sweden, with both Swedish and Iraqi heritage, her designs are reminiscent of her cultural background and her profound experiences along the way. With her constant need to self-reflect, she explored and developed mirror design and subsequently her brand, Karma J was conceptualised. With an emphasis on personal reflection, each mirror encourages you to take the time to analyse your own life experience, by perfectly balancing an open mind with your own traditional values
Johanna, your mirrors have been a massive hit with our guests. How does it feel to see so many guests appreciating and enjoying your mirrors?
Thank you, it’s an amazing feeling when someone appreciates what you love doing. Well as I first said when we decided to collaborate, I think the atmosphere at La Serre allows for many things to look really good. It’s white, so fresh and inviting. I’m enjoying the fact that it is not a typical art venue, but rather a casual atmosphere where people stay for many hours and can really feel the designs. The mirrors feel good there.
Which is your favourite piece?
Each piece is my favourite when I’m working on it as I really live the character of the mirror fully. I’ve noticed that my favourite keeps changing, depending a bit on the phase I am in in my life. For now I’m very much into The Illusionist. It’s a square brass frame that has a pattern within the frame that gives a double effect of the pattern. When standing right in front of it, that pattern doesn’t appear. It is an illusion.
You have recently been awarded the Silver A’Design award, can you tell us a little bit more about that and what it means for your brand?
It’s one of the biggest (if not the biggest) design competitions in the world with designers and renown companies participating, so it feels amazing to have this recognition. I will travel to Como next week for the Gala where all the participants are present for the awards. I know the networking will be great there but it’s hard to know what to expect. I will keep you posted on my return!
What has been the highlight or most memorable moment during your residency at La Serre?
You’re going to have to give me two moments. The first was the excitement during the installation of the mirrors. Deciding on which one goes where, you were of great help on that Farrah! The feeling when all of them were installed and the staff and guests started looking at them and their own reflection. Priceless.
The second was the press breakfast when the wonderful writers and editors were brought together and we spoke about Karma J. They have such a talent in the manner of how they are able to bring a different angle to your own interpretation, so interesting!
We would love to see the Rebel in the form of a handbag, what do you think about diversifying your art into wearable pieces?
Hmm..I really like the idea. I have worked on tables, trays and spiritual necklaces…even though all contain a mirror, I remain devoted to the frames. I work very much on intuition, so I have to feel it is right in order to pursue. And when it does, I’ll be ready to diversify.
What’s next for Karma J?
I’ve taken on a project to design a restaurant bar and some bespoke mirrors in a department store. I’m really enjoying working on a project basis as it’s a temporary collaboration that makes me live in someone else’s world…just for a while.
How can people continue to follow your work?
You can follow Karma J Mirrors on Instagram and Facebook. I will soon have a website so keep an eye out for that.
Finally, what is your favourite dish at La Serre?
La Serre is by far my favourite restaurant in Dubai and I’m not just saying that… I love the red sea bream ceviche with apple and the chef’s special, corn salad. But I’m a breakfast person so I have to mention the Eggs Benedict….! And the eggs with foie gras…mmm!