Welcome to DANISH™’s advent calendar. Every Friday before Christmas, we open a new window to reveal a little special something for you to enjoy while waiting for the big day. So, sit back, relax and enjoy!
Behind the third window is a little something for the entrepreneur. We asked three designers and an architect to pass along some good advice for start-ups and upcoming talents covering different aspects of a business.
Creating a Collection of Products
Anders Thams, partner at MOEBE
How do you find the right shelf for your products, when you’re new to the game?
For us, it wasn’t a matter of finding a “niche” in the design market, but rather pursuing our own vision of creating simple design with intelligent construction. Since the beginning, it has been our goal to present simple and intelligent takes on everyday products. Our plan is to create an entire furniture and accessories collection based on simple aesthetics and clever construction, and in that way to challenge the common ways of constructing products, e.g. to glue, weld, screw, etc.
Which considerations do you have in mind when expanding the collection?
For us, our whole strategy is driven by our ideas for new designs. If we have a good idea, we put it out there. We don’t analyse too much. We are driven by a desire to design, so the most important factor – at least for us – is getting the idea right, not least construction-wise. We never just want to do a nice design – we want to bring something new to the world. Of course, there are still several factors to be considered when expanding a collection: Do you have the right resources? Is it the right step for your brand? Etc. Our vision has always been to show a full collection based on our design philosophy, so expanding has always been on the cards.
Finding the Right Path As a Designer
Troels Grum-Schwensen, founder and designer at GRUMDesign
Believing in your own products: What does it take? When do you stand up for your products and when do you ditch an idea?
The passion, the joy and the excitement for form are our motive and driving force, when working with furniture design. Basically, you can put up two goals:
1. To make a difference by improving, creating innovations and rethinking. Doing things in new ways and creating beautiful designs in an artistic way; making the world a better and more beautiful place.
2. To make a living out of what you love to do.
It’s not always easy to honour both. Often, the two contradict each other. It’s neither fun, nor praiseworthy to renounce the first goal of doing meaningful design, but sometimes it’s necessary to set one’s mind on modesty, when it comes to goal number two.
When walking new paths and following the idealistic way, it calls for great perseverance to make your ideas succeed and you never know if you’ll find good collaborators to help you realize your products.
How do you choose the right collaborators?
ATTACH is an extremely flexible and innovative table-system, where gravity plays a big role in the tool-free leg assembly. Behind it though, is a mind-set I’ve worked with for around 15–20 years and that involves carrying out thorough design work ahead of the table developing into a product.
The last, important, phase of development – from design to product – was realized in a very tight and committed collaboration with LAMMHULTS.
Sharing basic attitudes is a strong factor in a successful collaboration, I believe. With LAMMHULTS, I’ve encountered a producer with the same high ambitions and a desire to make things better and different than have been seen before – even though this takes both time and resources in the development phase. A common driving force towards substance rather than trends, and the producer’s daring will and generosity made this process thrilling and joyful. It has been a great pleasure to experience this collaboration and afterwards to be awarded four international design awards for the table, all within the first year since the product launch.
Getting Your Storytelling on Point
Christoffer Skjøtt, founder and designer at MØBEL & RUM
How do you get your ‘Storytelling’ in place?
In short: Keep it simple and engage people with a story that has personal meaning. When I started out defining what M&R was all about, I quickly realised that I needed to define very precisely the Who, What, Why, Where and How! For me, it was important that if you read our logo or tag-line, you immediately would get the essence of who we are. Our storytelling itself comes from our great products: the design, the production, the people involved. For us, this is that something extra that allows our products to stand out from the rest and we feel this needs to be shared with our customers. They are not just taking home a great product, they are also taking home a great story.
When you have your ‘Storytelling’ in place, what can you achieve and what doors does it open?
It can help companies and brands to engage with people on a deeper level. It’s not always just about fast consumerism, but more about the story behind the product: slow design. What M&R are trying to do is to give customers an insight into our Who and What and thereby to give them a connection to us and our products. At the start of this year, I had a goal of getting one of our products into Carl Hansen & Søn’s flagship stores and now you can find our Satellite Mirrors in all their shops around the world. I believe that the visual identity and playful nature of the design combined with our engaging storytelling is what captured their attention. If customers can imagine the product as one of their own, you have achieved a lot.
A Growing Business
Julie Schmidt-Nielsen, partner and architect at WE Architecture
When do you know it is time to hire extra hands?
For me, there are two different employment types: the “cover all bases” type and “the leap of faith” type. The “cover all bases” employment happens ad hoc; for instance, when you realize that a project has been unmanned for weeks. Also in this type of employment, it can be challenging to attempt to predict the future when new projects can appear from one day to the next. Or vice versa, you could lose a project from one day to another. The perfect balance where every employee has the right workload does not seem to exist. The “leap of faith” employment happens when you realize that you spend all your own time doing everything BUT the work you set out to do when you first arrived at the office. This employment is a strategic decision, but if it is decided at the correct time, it can be a decisive factor for the growth of the office.
What should you be aware of when you are growing as a business and no longer just need to take care of yourself and a possible partner?
In a growth period, everyone knows it is important to fight for the preservation of the office DNA and to establish the best possible foundation for a healthy culture going forward. We learned that everyone’s role changes during a growth period, not just that of the partners. Everyone in the office needs to take greater responsibility for the group. Therefore, creating the right environment is essential.Recently, WE grew from an office of 12 to 30 people over a short period of 3 months. It was necessary for us to formalize the ‘WE Way’ – our way of working, our processes, our tone of voice, etc. These pointers helped new colleagues hit the ground running within WE’s culture.