With their own lifestyle brand launching today, design duo Carl Philip Bernadotte – who is Prince Carl Philip of Sweden – and Oscar Kylberg tell Dezeen how public scrutiny has kept them on their toes.
Prince Carl Philip is the only son of King Carl XVI Gustaf, and fourth in line to the Swedish throne, so he and Kylberg have had to deal with the spotlight ever since founding their Stockholm-based studio, Bernadotte & Kylberg, in 2012.
In an exclusive interview, the pair said this has driven them to work harder.
"It has been like that from the beginning, for good and bad," said the prince. "We know that everything we do is going to be looked at more."
"In the first years, it took a lot of energy from us, but today it's something that is just there," added Kylberg.
"It's like having your own cheerleading squad, in a way. You don't want to drop the ball; you want to work hard to show that you're up to the expectations."
These brands all sit in the luxury sector, so would all have reason to play up the royal connection. Yet the designers said they have previously avoided making themselves a focal point.
"When we launch something with a brand, we don't want to be the main focus," said Bernadotte. "We want the product to be number one."
Now, with the launch of their eponymous brand, the designers are deliberately putting themselves front and centre for the first time.
Their first own-branded products are scarves and blankets embellished with the B&K logo. This will later expand into a wider collection of products for the home.
"We want to make a statement," Kylberg said. "These are our products and this is our brand, our name."
"We designed that logo in 2012 and we haven't really used it before now," added Bernadotte. "It actually works really well on textiles."
The Bernadotte & Kylberg founders spoke to Dezeen via Zoom from their Stockholm studio, a former saddle-making chamber in the Royal Stables. While Kylberg appeared the more confident and articulate spokesperson, both were friendly and engaging.
The pair said they had dreamed of launching a Bernadotte & Kylberg brand "from day one" but that they didn't feel the time was right before now.
They have had reason to tread carefully. Back in 2013, Bernadotte came under fire when a previously unnamed collaborator claimed authorship for a product bearing the prince's signature, following accusations of plagiarism.
A decade on, the pair don't employ any other designers to work alongside them.
"Our promise to our clients is that we do the design and we take responsibility for it," said Kylberg.
This approach has its challenges, particularly as Bernadotte has to balance his design practice with the royal duties that come with being the Duke of Värmland.
But the pair said they have built up "a very natural symbiosis" after working closely together for more than a decade.
"It's a balancing act, but we make it work," said Bernadotte. "Sometimes I have to be away, but I always have B and K in the back of my mind."
"I think we have a very intuitive way of working together," added Kylberg.
"We take turns rowing the boat and we have a really high [level of] respect for each other's opinions. Today, if I came up with a design idea, it would just feel weird if Carl Philip didn't put his ideas to it."
The duo have had some important successes in the years since unveiling their first collaborative product, a set of playful stoneware dishes launched by porcelain brand Gustavsberg in 2012.
In 2016, they developed an innovative wine glass for German manufacturer Zwiesel Kristallglas, featuring a glass sphere that cleverly allows the wine to aerate.
The pair have also created a suite for Sweden's Icehotel, featuring blocks of ice filled with wildflowers.
While most of this hotel is famously melted down and rebuilt every year, this suite has been in place since 2021 and is set to remain for the foreseeable future.
According to Kylberg, they are driven by curiosity rather than ambition.
"Because it's only the two of us, we can only do so many projects," he said. "If we have to choose, we always pick the ones where there are interesting questions to be answered or problems to be solved. I think that's because we are extremely curious and detail-orientated."
He said that all the products they have made so far are "things that we love and use ourselves".
"What we do is us," added Bernadotte. "We do things we like and hope others will be inspired by them too."
The portrait is by Dion Morgan Norman.