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For the latest issue of Ethos magazine I recently had the honour of speaking with Peter Bur Andersen, Partner and Creative Director of BRIQ.
This much-admired, Copenhagen based design agency, work in the fields of urban life, architecture and spatial design, and I wanted to share more with you, as well as Ethos readers, about how their careful approach to retail planning fosters better communities, as well as creates spaces that bring people together.
Here’s more from my chat with Peter:
Can you start by introducing BRIQ, and telling us about the work you do?
I founded BRIQ in 2008, with a vision to help brands become co-creators of what life in the city should be like, instead of merely selling their goods or services.
Today my team and I, consisting of planners, architects, designers, and field experts, are given the opportunity to shape the future. We have a fundamental belief that a living city is constantly evolving, and we should understand and optimise the needs of the people within it, so everyone can live better lives.
What approach do you take and who do you work with?
We approach each project as if we are going to live there ourselves. Starting with a deep dig into the narrative of the city, building or space in question. We then pair this with our strategic understanding, the involved budgets and, naturally, the wants and desires of our clients.
We structure our projects into tangible milestones, which in turn enables us to steer the process carefully between our own innovation and the given framework. As we deliver on this, we build meaningful long-term relationships with our clients, from private companies, cultural institutions to early-stage start-ups, as well as some of the world’s most exciting brands.
We also enjoy working alongside developers that cherish innovative and value-driven solutions, especially those who promote a balanced lifestyle for the benefit of all.
How has this process evolved over the years?
In the beginning it was very hands-on, almost intuitive, based on my many years of living as a modern nomad in various countries. I have experienced first-hand how important a place can be for one’s social well-being and feeling of belonging.
This is why, at BRIQ, we all share the same vision of what constitutes a good life in the city. Today, home is a feeling we all want to have not only when at home, but one we share when out shopping, visiting a café, or at work. And, why we recognise that the offering itself must be unique to that place, for people to connect with it and want to go back again.
What do you think are the main challenges currently facing our urban environments?
I love this question, but to answer it we would need more time than we have for this interview. We would also have to ask for other types of competences around the table. However, what I see is a big change in the structure and use of the urban landscape.
For instance, hospitals and health services are being centralised into new and integrated parts of the city, educational facilities are being moved to the outskirts, while the production industries search for places with cheaper rent and labour. This could result in a vacuum where there is a risk for mono-functional and generic development. Furthermore, this would make our cities bland and excluding, while at the same time, every week three million new people move to the big cities of the world.
This is both a challenge and a big opportunity for public and private management, urban developers, product and service designers, companies, and retailers. The success of its outcome is going to depend on new kinds of collaboration and creative solutions.
What has been your favourite BRIQ project to date and why?
I am equally proud of the designs we have done for shops and restaurants as I am for architectural projects and urban planning.
Some of our most tangible projects are of course the transformation of old industrial sites in Copenhagen into new use, such as North Harbour and The Carlsberg City District. In addition to this we have so many wonderful international projects too, like the interior design of Nespresso’s new headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland, and the strategic support we provided to Ingka Centres on how to transform their retail spaces into social meeting places.
What are your priorities and hopes for the next year?
We have grown rapidly over the past few years, but as we grow, we remain driven by our authentic and unique approach to each of our projects: big or small. I also hope that we will inspire projects we are not involved in, and create ripple effects that bring people together, give them a genuine sense of belonging, connectedness, and community.
My personal, as well as BRIQ’s, goal is for people to live better lives no matter where in the world they call home.
Who and what inspires you?
I have always admired people with a clear dedication. On our website each of our team members are asked to present their favourite city, favourite architect, or designer, as well as their favourite restaurant. Their answers never fail to inspire me. You should take a look.
What are the three most interesting things that you’ve listened to or read recently?
I recently read an in-depth article of the life we would live in a 6-degree warmer future. It was eye-opening and worrying at the same time, and I truly hope that we will act on the challenges of climate change. At least, we try our best to do so here at BRIQ. I also want to highlight the books of Yuval Noah Harari.
Finally, what’s your ethos?
I would like to see myself as honest, open-minded, generous, and forgiving.
Thank you again to Peter for chatting with me. To find out more about BRIQ, visit their website.
Images 6 and 7 by Nicola Capper, all other images courtesy of BRIQ.
Want to know more?
This interview first appeared in issue 17 of Ethos, which is available to buy now.
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