The amazing people I’ve had the opportunity to chat with thanks to writing this blog never ceases to amaze me. Safe to say, when I recently got to find out more about Copenhagen-based brand New Works, and hear what we can all look forward to seeing from them at this years 3daysofdesign, it provided another of those moments.
Grounded in long-held Scandinavian design values, but not afraid to push the boundaries of what Nordic design could and should be, New Works has quickly become a firm favourite of mine, but I’ll leave it to Co-founder and CEO, Nikolaj Meier, as well as Co-founder and Creative Director, Knut Bendik Humlevik to tell us more:
Can you start by telling us a little about yourselves and how your careers in design began?
Knut: I was born and raised in Bergen before moving to Copenhagen when I was twenty to study architecture at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts. During the process my interest in furniture grew. I started working for HAY, drawing furniture in addition to my studies, and participated in exhibitions and contests within design. Despite my growing interest in furniture, I did finish my education as an architect. This is a decision I am very happy with, since it gave me methods, concepts, and different understandings of creating that I still use today.
Nikolaj: My career in design started when I moved to England where I worked as a salesman for a company importing Danish design from brands including Menu, Verpan and Rosendahl. After five years in the UK, followed by four years in Denmark, I decided to start my own agency/import company representing international design brands in Scandinavia.
What inspired you to start New Works, and what did you want to do differently to other design brands?
Nikolaj: After having worked intensively for years building international brands like Tom Dixon, Magis and Lampe Gras, Knut and I wanted to create a design collection of our own that would be in opposition to the New Nordic wave that was dominating the scene at the time.
Knut: The dream of starting a design company of my own grew little by little, and then in 2014 I met Nikolaj who shared this same vision. To us, New Works is more than just a collection of design pieces, it represents a whole aesthetic universe offering room to pause in this hectic world. We are very fond of our Scandinavian design heritage, and it is inevitably a part of our identity, but it has been very important to us that New Works doesn’t appear as a direct offspring of the mainstream Scandinavian design style.
How do you choose the designers you collaborate with at New Works, and what values and principles are you looking for in their work?
Knut: The thing that I enjoy most about my job is working with so many different creatives. Every process is different though as they all work in different ways. That said the type of designer that is a great match for New Works would be someone who works with geometry but has soft values. A New Works product can be simple or very technical, but it must have a poetic feel or sculptural quality to it.
When it comes to designing a timeless New Works product, how do you create something different, something unique?
Knut: As our collection is based on simple geometric shapes, tactility, and material-driven design, many of our current products are likely to remain in our collection for decades. I believe what makes an object part of the New Works family is an understated elegance combined with an honest material palette and great quality craftsmanship. These values are also what make our collection so cohesive. Objects can be mixed and matched, but always feel comfortable alone.
What is exciting you in the design world right now, and what can we look forward to seeing next from New Works?
Nikolaj: For me it’s the huge focus on sustainability. Not only on the products we design but also the whole go-to-market setup. We used to go to huge international trade shows and would spend an incredible amount of money, time, and effort to build a great showcase, only to break it all down and throw most of it out after the event. It has never made sense to me, so I’m pleased to see how the Covid-19 pandemic in some ways has forced us all to re-think this.
Over the next two years there will be many new products; however longevity is key and hopefully many of these designs will live for many years to come.
Knut: I can reveal a little bit about what’s on the way from us. At 3daysofdesign this year, we will be introducing a new chair by the Brooklyn-based designer Steven Bukowski. The design has clear references to mid-century modern, still it feels very contemporary and unique.
Another coming design I‘m excited about, is the New Works Shelving System. This will be the first modular design in our collection. It’s this essential, uncomplicated wall shelf with subtle details, which I feel has been missing from the market. We have tested the system in our showroom and have enjoyed seeing how seamlessly the design blends into the environments we create. This year, you will also see New Works return to darker shades, incorporating references to classic interiors, with a strong focus on textures.
Thank you, Knut and Nikolaj, for taking the time to chat with me, I am extremely excited to see what will be revealed at 3daysofdesign in June.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
To find out more visit the New Works website.
All images courtesy of New Works.
Enjoyed reading this post? Then read my chat with one of Denmark’s leading designers, Mads Sætter-Lassen.