In the 21st century, returning to nature can feel like a breath of fresh air. Norway-based Orsolya Haarberg is a visionary photographer and designer whose hands and lens take the forgotten materials and natural sights all around us and immortalise them as art.

In our contemporary world, we find ourselves amidst a modern landscape bursting with blaring lights, loud noises, cityscapes, all while holding the ever-expansive universe in the palm of our hands. For better or for worse, we have access to an unlimited amount of content, from the simplest ideas to the most fantastical out-of-this-world art made by artificial intelligence. While this can be extremely exciting, it can also become rather overwhelming after a while.

Orsolya Haarberg is a photographer and designer whose craft offers a small escape from all the noise – a return to nature through art and photography. With almost two decades of professional photography experience under her belt, Haarberg established Fjellheimen Galleri in Vågå in 2020 with the intention to give her abundance of art and photography a home.

Through the Lens Orsolya Haarberg on redefining nature’s palette through photography and craft

Through her work, Orsolya Haarberg aims to capture her love for the natural world and all its wonders. Photo: Roger Illing

Adventures to last a lifetime

Until 2017, Haarberg was constantly travelling. With her then-husband, she took on freelance assignments for different employers, such as the US National Geographic magazine, and set out to capture the great sights of her adventures.

“We travelled and photographed everything from Iceland to Swedish Laponia. My latest adventure on behalf of National Geographic I did alone. It looked at the last primaeval forests of Europe,” she says.

After having travelled so much, however, Haarberg decided it was time for a new chapter in her story. In 2018, she moved to Vågå, Norway, to lay down roots. Here, she would also eventually open Fjellheimen Galleri.

“In addition to wanting to build a life where I could live and work in Vågå, I thought it was about time I took a step back from travelling out of consideration for the very same environment I’ve spent so long photographing,” she says.

While Haarberg had set on settling, this would not come without its challenges. Only two years after moving to Vågå, the pandemic arrived, changing things as she knew it.

“As a freelancer without state support, I had to be creative to keep my head above water,” she explains. “Thus, Fjellheimen Galleri was born. It became a way for me to make a living out of my passion, all in my new hometown.”

Bringing nature’s aesthetic into the home

Through her work, Haarberg strives to capture the world in the most honest and raw way possible. With each photo, she aims to capture what she describes as the very essence of the photograph, namely the thing that touched her upon discovering the motif.

“I love seeking new adventures and challenges in nature, especially the mountains,” she says. “I’ll spend a few days in a tent on the mountain tops, observing and photographing. Sometimes, I’ll sit there for ages, simply waiting for the right light.”

She goes on to explain that mountains and height offer a completely different silence, beauty and perspective, as well as the thrilling adventure of the unknown.

“Height, in particular, makes even the most famous scenes appear different. Rivers glitter like ribbons of silver, slipping into lakes that look like mirrors. The land can become abstract patterns and unexpected images.”

In addition to her photography, Haarberg uses design and craft to bring people closer to nature in a domestic setting. Using organic forms and shapes from nature, such as antlers, her line REiN is a selection of functional interior art and furniture.

Through the Lens Orsolya Haarberg on redefining nature’s palette through photography and craft

REiN Bowl.

“Through this new concept, I wanted to bring nature’s aesthetic into the home,” she says. “The antlers come from free-ranging reindeer herds in Jotunheimen, sustainably using a resource that would otherwise have been wasted.”

Over the last three years, her creations have gone from small, simpler decorative pieces such as candle holders or hangers, to larger, more complex pieces, such as lamps and tables.

Through the Lens Orsolya Haarberg on redefining nature’s palette through photography and craft

The REiN Loop table adds a perfect touch of nature to any modern home.

“The best thing is that each product is completely unique, both in form and appearance, thanks to the natural variation in size and colour of antlers.”

Haarberg adds that she feels privileged that she’s able to follow her intuitions and continue living in the present. Going forward, she’s excited to develop new ideas and products that’ll touch and inspire viewers and customers.

Through the Lens Orsolya Haarberg on redefining nature’s palette through photography and craft

REiN Moonlight. Styling by Kirsten Visdal.

Instagram: @orsolyahaarberg
Facebook: orsolyahaarberg

Stille Natur Exhibition

To see some of Haarberg’s work, visit her Stille Natur exhibition which will take place in Ullinsvin Gallery and Parsonage, Vågå, from 22 June to 8 September.

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