Ulla Eson Bodin was a textile artist and designer who was active within private fashion companies, the Swedish dramatic arts, and in academia as an adjunct professor at Textilhögskolan at Borås.
Ulla Eson Bodin was born in Gothenburg in 1935. She was the daughter of Sara Rosina Norling and Karl Harald Ericsson. She grew up in Borås where her father worked as an architect. In 1958 she married Harald Bodin. They settled in Töve near Hökerum in Västergötland. They had three children together, named Johan, Sofia, and Josefina.
Ulla Eson Bodin studied pattern-making at Textilinstitutet (now Textilhögskolan) in Borås in the early 1950s. From 1955 until 1958 she attended Slöjdföreningens skola in Gothenburg, now known as HDK-Valand Högskolan för konst och design (college of art and design). She was already listed as a textile artist in the 1960 census, when she was 25 years old. Although Ulla Eson Bodin spent lengthy periods of time during which she worked for particular employers, she largely worked as a freelancer from the time she completed her studies until the 1990s.
Ulla Eson Bodin was commissioned to produce textile art and design work by Bohus Stickning, Vadstena-Akademien and Almedahls, amongst others. In 1959 she designed the pattern for Bohus Stickning’s “Totem” shirt. Starting in the early 1970s, and for the ensuing 25 years, Ulla Eson Bodin was designer in chief of patterns for interior furnishings, amongst other roles, at Almedahls. The lively and colourful patterns she created in the 1970s can be seen as Ulla Eson Bodin’s most influential textile art creations, with their playful and timeless expression. Several of her patterns from that era are still in production and her original prints are highly sought-after in the second-hand market. The cotton prints intended for use in clothing, produced during the early phase of her career, gradually came to include other materials and other uses following technological innovations within the textile industry which placed greater attention on art. Ulla Eson Bodin was not drawn to working in the new materials. However, natural materials still dominated within the sphere of interior furnishings and Ulla Eson Bodin’s physical location – right in the middle of the textile kingdom during its heyday as a production industry – enabled her to continue working with natural raw materials whilst working with several different sections of the industry. In addition to interior furnishings Ulla Eson Bodin designed leather wear, slippers, tricot items, underwear, and nightwear.
Ulla Eson Bodin designed cloth for FOV Fabrics which was used in leisure wear. She was also chiefly responsible for that company’s collections whilst also performing the same role for Almedahls. Ulla Eson Bodin’s patterns gained an international market through FOV Fabrics. These patterns were particularly popular in Germany and Great Britain.
During the early 1990s Ulla Eson Bodin spent half a year teaching at Textilhögskolan in Borås. She ran courses in textile prints, designing tricot items, exhibition techniques, and fashion illustrations. A few years later she was then asked to return to the school in a new role. From 1996 onwards Ulla Eson Bodin was adjunct professor at Textilhögskolan, actively researching, teaching, and participating in many interdisciplinary collaborations. Up to that point the academic world had been an unknown quantity to her but Ulla Eson Bodin ended her professional life as a completely devoted teacher and researcher. Amongst other things this led her to found Stickakademien in 1998, which served as a meeting point for students, designers, representatives from the textile industry and academia and provided an experimental workshop for tricot design.
Ulla Eson Bodin, as part of a project with Folke Sandvik, developed the textile sound proofing material called Cullus at the college during the early 2000s. This is a knitted, egg-carton resembling material which was originally intended for use within the dramatic arts. The material, which is responsive and flexible due to its knitted nature, also proved to be suitable for improving sound quality in public spaces and has been produced for use as a sound proofing in schools and pre-schools.
Around the year 2000 Ulla Eson Bodin began to work with Vadstena-Akademien where she once again extended her already wide-ranging activities in designing costumes for the trust’s opera stage. She created costumes for several productions at Vadstena-Akademien and thereby also worked with Operahögskolan in Gothenburg, where students from Textilhögskolan and HDK-Valand produced costumes under her guidance.
Ulla Eson Bodin was involved in many interdisciplinary collaborations. A long-time friend and colleague was Wanja Djanaieff, also a textile designer, with whom she collaborated one final time shortly before her death in 2009. This was for an exhibition at Sundborn, focused on Karin Larsson. Students from Textilhögskolan also participated in the exhibition – it was normal for Ulla Eson Bodin to work closely with her students. She was an interdisciplinary artist whose extensive output and varied forms of expression were influential in many areas. Her range extended from interior furnishing designs, using themes taken from the natural and animal worlds, to futuristic stage costumes, to the development of textile sound proofing for public spaces.
Ulla Eson Bodin’s husband Harald died in 2004 and he was followed five years later by his wife. The couple is buried at the St Sigfrid cemetery in Borås.