With a measured simplicity, Anne and Steen Skyum pursue from the town of Kolding, Denmark, a leisurely aesthetic ideal that they cleverly capture in Noorstad‘s designs. A selection of their wooden objects is now featured in many forms at RI HOUSE, to celebrate their firm belief in ‘less is enough’. Never too much, never too little, just enough.
IS SIMPLICITY YOUR GREATEST VIRTUE?
Simplicity or legibility is one of three key values we use as guidelines for all of Noorstad designs. In Danish another word for simplicity is “enkelt.” It also means one. We aim to make something as “enkelt” as we can, without necessarily going minimalistic. We like to reduce things as far as we think is necessary, or before we arrive at an aesthetic that pleases us. It is always a balance. If you reduce too much you end up doing non-design, if you elaborate too much you end up with visual noise. Our aim is to find that balance, where you look at a product and think – of course. It is often said that less is more. We like to rephrase that into “less is enough”. Very often we already have too much. We don’t need more, we just need enough.
TELL US ABOUT THE MATERIAL, THE WOODS YOU USE AND WHY.
From the very beginning we defined some dogma for our work, as we believe in the need for boundaries for creativity to thrive. One was to work only with local raw materials such as Scandinavian wood. Very quickly this turned out to be both a curse and a blessing since we wanted dark wood in the collection, and we don’t have that in Scandinavia. It took us some time to solve this, but it turns out that you can literally bake wood to get the warm brown hue we like so much. Our round Douglas TMT stools are an examples of this. The process of moistening and scorching timber goes back to the vikings who used it to make timber resistant to rot and fungi. A refined version of this is still used today in thermal modification of wood for window frames.
Wood has a rather unique tactile quality that we really like; it can be rustic, rough and almost silk like at the same time. It is time encapsulated. The feel of old wood is completely different from almost anything else and brings a special atmosphere to a room. We have immense respect for our materials and we hate to throw anything away. This means that we not only allow small “faults” like cracks and knots but let these characteristics be a defining part of the design of the massive stools in oak and douglas. As a consequence of not throwing away anything we have made a series of accessories from cut off’s from other production. Our Cannon Bowls and Slope Trays are all made from up-cycled waste materials from other production. Materials that would otherwise be burned.
YOUR PRODUCTION AND RESOURCES ARE DELIBERATELY LOCAL, WHY IS THIS SOMETHING SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?
First of all it seems meaningless to waste resources moving timber around the globe, when you may source it almost in your own backyard. Another reason is that we prioritize to be in close contact with our manufacturers. Noorstad products are very much about detail and finishing, so long lasting and close relations with production are really important to us.
IS THERE ANY PLACE IN PARTICULAR THAT INSPIRES YOU?
Our main inspiration has always been nature: from materials to abstract meaning.
Necessity is another theme: What do we really, really need in our habitat? All Noorstad products are designed in an attempt to answer this; What do we need? Which products do we ourselves want in our own home? How do we create a space that nudges us to feel and sense again in this accelerated culture with too much noise around us?
WHAT IS YOUR SPACE LIKE, THE SPACE YOU LOVE?
We are so privileged to live in a space we love. Its understated, calm and quiet – and very close to nature. It is a space that gives room to interpretation and activity – it is meant to be used. The same space may be a frame for work, for painting, for cooking, all things creative and spending time with friends.
It offers a background to be filled and defined by the people in it.
AND WHAT DOES THIS SPACE SOUND LIKE?
First of all it can be very quiet. But it can also sound like a carpenters workshop, like a cafe or like modern jazz. That’s the beauty of it.