The birth of a tradition is rarely deliberate. This is certainly
true of the UID 'Tomten' figurine. The Santa-like little plastic
thingy that you will find perched on shelves and desks all around
UID was and still is a valuable educational tool. Yet, it's mild
resemblance to Santa Claus was enough to give it a purpose beyond
learning, namely spreading Christmas cheer. We caught up with its
creator Kalle Bergstedt, who used to run the workshop, some thirty
What is the story behind the Santa figurine?
"When we started the school in -89, Bengt Palmgren told me that
we had to teach students how to use the machines in the workshop
that was being put together. I asked him "how are we going to do
that?". He just told me to "make something up", shrugged his
shoulders and walked out. I was left scratching my head, a bit
"But after some time, contemplating, I came up with this little
figurine-like creature. I think it became a success because it has
a lot of good educational parts, involving techniques from all the
machines in the workshop, wrapped up in one small object. All
students who have completed a programme at UID have made one.
How does it feel that all students passing through UID have
a personal connection to the little Santa?
"It's amazing, a lot of fun actually. In my mind, at that
time, I just tried to solve a problem in the moment. It's the
students that later named it Santa and it became this tradition.
Once, they actually made a large replica of it that is still on
display somewhere at UID.