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Podcast 30 April 2019

LINcast: How Danish Design Took Over the World

LINcast host Gabe Duverge is joined by Tine Mouritsen of Tine Mouritsen ApS Design Studio based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The pair discussed the global influence of Danish and Scandinavian design and how it affects the modern workplace.

LINcast U.S. Episode 6: How Danish Design Took Over the World

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Full Transcript

Gabe Duverge: Hello, and welcome to LINcast, a LINAK podcast with conversations exploring the latest research and innovation behind actuation solutions. We are improving peoples quality of life and working environments, through smooth and reliable movement. My name is Gabe Duverge and today I'm proud to be joined by Tine Mouritsen, an architect, designer, and founder of Tine Mouritsen ApS Studio, based out of Copenhagen, Denmark. Her portfolio includes furniture design and a full range of interior design, concept solutions. Thanks for joining us Tine.

Tine Mouritsen: Thank you for inviting me.

Gabe Duverge: So, Tine, today we wanted to talk about Scandinavian design and it's not really a recent trend that we're seeing. We know that it was started in the 1950s and that the world really began to be captivated by the blend of organic textures, contrasts, and minimal shapes that have made so many Danish, Swedish and Norwegian designers famous. And the style is just more accessible now it seems, more than ever. But as a Danish designer with your experience, I'm sure you are surrounded by this style for your entire life. How does this influence you, and what is your impression on how this is shaping the design world these days?

Tine Mouritsen: Well, yeah, you're definitely right. I grew up with Børge Mogensen and Hans Wegner and all the classic 50s grand designers. And that's been fantastic, but the minimalistic way of looking at design and functionality has been a great influence in my life as a designer, but also in many others, I guess. And then we've always had this form, follow, functions from the Scandinavian design tradition and also the materials that we use.

Gabe Duverge: Of course.

Tine Mouritsen: And Ikea has been a big part of getting the Scandinavian design tradition out in the world.

Gabe Duverge: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Tine Mouritsen: But I guess the 50s design in Denmark has definitely been the leading, or pointing stars for us. But it's also been a big heritage to actually carry further and on. Because you're standing on shoulders of giants, and that can be a pressure sometimes.

Gabe Duverge: Yeah, I completely agree. You mention Ikea, and that's definitely what an average person who maybe isn't as familiar with Scandinavian design would first mention.

Tine Mouritsen: Yeah, definitely.

Gabe Duverge: It's found its way into both residential and commercial design, projects of all sorts. And I think it's really easy for someone to pick up, a design, a chair, an accent table, even at a local department store, that was actually designed by some of the mid-century Danish designers that you were talking about. But why do you think this style of design has been embraced so much around the world? I mean, we know that you've excelled so much as you mentioned with colliding function with unique design. Do you think it's because Scandinavian design can blend so well with other styles? Or that other reasons that the average person may not realize?

Tine Mouritsen: I definitely think that the simplicity and… it’s easy to code when you look at a Scandinavian chair or furniture. It's easy to decode actually how it's supposed to be used or what to do with it. And it's the same simplicity that goes in a lot of design, both in furniture but also lighting and textile designs and the tactility and stuff like that is also very important. But I think it's the simplicity that makes Scandinavian design, as you say, it's easy to use in all the cultures. It's easy to combine with other types of design traditions also. It's easy get in your house or in your home.

Tine Mouritsen: And a lot of people actually think that IKEA is the Scandinavian design style. I lived in Spain for two years and everybody thought that IKEA, well the Scandinavian design tradition was IKEA, and I was like, "No, not really. But, thanks for noticing.” But of course, not everybody knows about the classic traditional famous Danish, Swedish or Norwegian designers. And the Finnish also has some of the really cool ones out there. But I guess also part of our tradition also comes from the fact that we live on the Northern Hemisphere. That we have so much darkness during winter time, that we actually need to look out for the light. And lightness both in, of course, lamp design and light design. But also in the furniture design I think that's kind of how you build your cave during the winter time. I think the home is important in another way then for example, in Spain, where I lived the home wasn't that important, it was more about enjoying the life on the street.

Gabe Duverge: That makes sense, yeah.

Tine Mouritsen: Yeah, so I think it's also something about the temperature, maybe? It's cold up here.

Gabe Duverge: It is a little cold there.

Tine Mouritsen: Yeah.

Gabe Duverge: For a little bit longer for sure. I have been, and it's a little colder for a little longer in Denmark. But it's definitely beautiful and. We've talked a lot about the home, but I definitely wanted to touch on the work place and where people do work is definitely also is part of the design and somewhere where we're seeing some of this Danish and Scandinavian design really move forward. So I guess companies begin to improve their work places for their employees, I'm starting to hear a lot about the Hygge philosophy that the Danes have made so famous. Can you explain what that is? I'm sure a lot of people listening have heard about it. And maybe why it's important to the Danish design kind of philosophy in today's office space?

Tine Mouritsen: Well, I think ... Like you guys are also working with the new ways of working and the activity based work spaces. That's kind of really gone crazy here in Denmark, in the office spaces. So, now we're kind of talking about that before you were talking about having the possibility of a home office stay. That you could have the office in your home, but now it's actually the other way around. When I design interiors for big companies, office spaces, then it's like how can we make the office more homey. So, that's actually a transition that's been going on for maybe two, three years. Not that long here in Denmark, because we haven't been, or it hasn't been normal. It's been like oh we need these single offices. So the open space offices have been on the way for say 15 years, maybe.

Tine Mouritsen: But the fact that the home is coming into the work space is a new thing. So we see sofas, we see noble home use furniture way more often. Day beds and stuff like that in the office interior now. So, that's a big change. And I think that's also the fact that you can actually work everywhere today. You guys also have that in the States, you can work in the first stall you find in a café or from your phone, or your computers, or why even meet up at the headquarters of your employer. And then we need to facilitate some other functions, and some other furniture in the office spaces. We need to facilitate how you knowledge share, or how you meet, socialize and the break out areas. And the coffee is way more important now, then it's ever been. Actually, the fact that you stand in line for coffee and food in the cantina is so important for people interacting.

Gabe Duverge: Yeah, absolutely. When you talk about bringing the home into the office space, I can definitely ... I think every person listening ... If they're listening at their work place, they're probably listening from an open office, you know, type office that maybe has a couch or a coffee table, or that area.

Tine Mouritsen: But also the softer furniture kind of stimulates a lot of different ways of working. You can sit, or you can half lie or you can ... And it's also really good for the acoustic, because of the softness of the materials. So, it's super interesting how we can ... It's tweaking these ...

Gabe Duverge: Tweaking, yeah.

Tine Mouritsen: Yeah, tweaking the small stuff now. And also how you can have a place where you can actually focus and get your work done. And not just talking to other people, but also how you can then have spaces where you can focus and be quiet.

Gabe Duverge: Of course. Yes, indeed.

Gabe Duverge: But, I would definitely be ... you know I think coming from LINAK, something that we focus on and we like to help companies work on in the work place focusing on health and wellness. In creating an environment that's both welcoming, but can also ensure that people are working in a fashion that helps them keep health and wellness first. Do you see this come up in some of your projects, I know you're talking more about some of the trends that have been more common in America coming to Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia. Are you seeing this health and wellness trend show up there? How do you take that into account when you're thinking about Danish and Scandinavian design? Is there any particular technology or anything that you might incorporate into helping focus on that?

Tine Mouritsen: Definitely, for example your height adjustable tables, and where you can have the app where the table moves when you have to move. Or when your workout watch shakes on your arm and stuff like that. But, I also see a bigger focus on the gym in bigger companies. They want to have a gym, they want to have a place where people can do yoga. They want the mental health, they have these minor rooms where you can actually go and pray, or have a mindfulness hour. And that's really interesting for me, because that also indicates that we need these quiet spaces. Or we need the gym where you can work out and use your body and move.

Gabe Duverge: Right.

Tine Mouritsen: So, it is like ... I've been working with you guys on Design Meets Movement, and that's kind of also a fact or a trend. I don't know if it's a trend, but in office interior it's how we get people to move more, so they don't just sit. And that's not just watching how we move, but then the furniture should indicate that you need to move. Or if it's a high table, then you stand and have a stand up meeting. Or if you have a lounge area, or a couch, then you're more half lying than sitting. The typology of the furniture is suddenly more important to nudge people to move in different ways and sit and work in different ways.

Gabe Duverge: Yeah, that makes sense.

Tine Mouritsen: And then I know that there's also these companies now Milan Furniture's fair is next week and I know that this company always had these big gym machines and they actually have work desks where you have a running mill in the office.

Gabe Duverge: I've seen that. Like a little treadmill.

Tine Mouritsen: It's so crazy. Yeah. A treadmill. We are like why? I couldn't concentrate if I had it ... But, some people can actually. So, I think the movement is coming in. We also have a lot of places where we use swings for adults. Because if you sit and move while you talk, or talk on the phone, or have a meeting in swings, that you kind of concentrate in another way. It stimulates your inner ear, so it's actually a good thing to have these movable furniture types.

Gabe Duverge: Absolutely, that's fascinating. I need a swing for my desk, I could use that.

Tine Mouritsen: That's so cool. I really concentrate and talk better on the phone when I'm in a swing. It's so funny.

Gabe Duverge: I think it goes hand in hand with ... I'm sure I'm not the only person who when I'm on the phone, I like to walk around.

Tine Mouritsen: Yeah, or sit and twirl on the stool, if you have a stool or swivel.

Gabe Duverge: And just to move on, I think, as we're wrapping up, it's ... People will often say that one style, it may never go out of style. So, I mean we've talked about Danish design, it's popular now, especially in the States, but it goes all the way back to the 50s and there're all kinds of reaches beyond that. What do you think Danish design will look like in the future? Do you think there will be a turn in the tide, and will it maintain sort of this similar style? Or maybe, it won't be as influential? What do you think, if you could kind of look into the future?

Tine Mouritsen: Yeah, that's a difficult question. But, well, there's two big companies that have been bought here in Denmark. Muuto and Hay, and I think it's Herman Miller that bought part of it or all of it?

Gabe Duverge: Yeah. I believe.

Tine Mouritsen: And I think that of course we'll have a more international influence in Danish design. Also, because if you look at the Danish design companies now, they actually have a lot of foreign designers, designing furniture for them. So, it's also a question, what is Danish design? Or what is Scandinavian design? But, of course it's rooted in the Scandinavian design tradition, but it's always a mix I think. And the Danish designers are also really getting more and more international. We see more and more of my colleagues that are designing for international brands. So, we're all influenced I think. But I think Danish design will have a big influence, because of our history and our DNA and our tradition from how we are studying. So, it's also how we study design and how the process. I think it's a lot about how we work the work process, that's more the Danish way I think. The way we see design, and yeah the actual design process.

Tine Mouritsen: It's a big difference from, for example, Spain where I went to study also. So, there's a huge difference in the way we are educated. We have so much freedom in our way of learning and artistic design skill. Where I know the countries are more like school, classes and teaching. So, that's interesting how that would be affected, and how it would be with the future designers from Denmark or Scandinavia.

Gabe Duverge: I'm definitely interested to see, sort of, what you're talking about. Where it's sometimes ... For example, you talked about the foreign designer working in  Danish design. And seeing how those partnerships create something new and different, that still also honours the history and tradition. I'm definitely excited to see how that evolves in Danish and rest of Scandinavian design.

Tine Mouritsen: And also how Hay and Muuto will be affected by being part owned, or owned by American companies. That's also interesting to see, if they keep their DNA.

Gabe Duverge: Yes. Absolutely. And those things can go very well, and sometimes they could go and sometimes they don't. But it is what it is. I just appreciate so this much, it's been such a great conversation Tine. One more question before we go. People who are listening, I'm sure, they're interested in Danish design, hopefully if they're listening to this podcast, we just talked for 20 minutes. But do you have any tips, from your experience being an expert, on how someone can easily implement Danish design principles into their workspace, maybe their desk area, or anywhere around the office?

Tine Mouritsen: I think it's a lot about tactility and that you dare to make different choices in what you choose for your table top for example. The close proximity of your skin and you as a person. The human touch, I think it's interesting, and I think that's where we are kind of strong. That we always think from the human and out, or that's how I work at least. But it's centred around the person ... How will your arms lie on the table top. Or how will you sit in the chair and is it nice to sit on leather or what you feel the different materials. So, it's materiality, I think is important in Scandinavian design.

Gabe Duverge: Oh, defiantly. And I think, you know, as we talked about, there're resources everywhere and especially in America we're seeing more and more. You can get a chair that kind of fits this mold that we're talking about and tactile-ness, just at a local department store or local furniture store. And pretty easily, that's the great part, I think, of the times we live in. But, Tine this has been a tremendous look into Scandinavian, Danish design. Its global influence and how it affects the way we live and we work, and I want to thank you so much for joining us today.

Tine Mouritsen: Thank you.

Gabe Duverge: Yeah, no problem. It's been fantastic. And I also want to thank everyone for listening to this episode of the podcast. You can find more articles and topics on our news page, or dive into another episode focused on the latest trends in the furniture design world. Thanks everyone for listening.


About Tine Mouritsen

Tine Mouritsen

Tine Mouritsen is the founder and owner of Danish Design Studio, Tine Mouritsen ApS. She graduated from The Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Space & Furniture in 2000 and has worked as a SpaceMaker, Furniture Designer and the field in-between ever since.

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