“The definition of ‘good taste’ is up for interpretation and is very often a result of habitual thinking. Good design, on the other hand, can be judged from predefined criteria”, states architect and designer Troels Grum-Schwensen.
And he knows what he´s talking about. Several times he has been honoured with international design awards for his well-thought-out and well-crafted pieces of furniture. The latest one is for the ATTACH table system, which also cements the intention and will to maintain a high level of ambition.
Whether it’s about architecture or design, it is significant for Troels Grum-Schwensen that, with everything he gets involved in, the concept of spatiality is part of the job. The contention is that a piece of furniture should either contradict or compliment the existing space or room and, by doing so, have a constructive dialogue with its surroundings. He explains:
“The goal is to optimise idea, function, construction and expression from a greater architectonic coherence down to the most minor detail.”
At a time when popularity, easy access solutions and celebrity power is present on almost every single platform, whether in politics or design, the Danish architect and designer daringly claims that good things take time: That good design does not arise overnight but in an on-going thought process – preferably in a dialogue between the designer and the manufacturer.
“My ambition goes beyond creating more of the same. I want to add new functions and brand new expressions to the already existing surroundings. I want to create designs that make an actual difference in our everyday life in either the private or the public space”, explains Troels Grum-Schwensen, who believes that good design cannot be established without the underpinning of a fundamentally well-thought-out idea – an idea that works either constructively, architectonically or design-wise as a shape or form. And something new has to be added to this – something substantial, which is not controlled or initiated by fashion, tendencies or momentary trends.
“It’s not like I am not a product of my time, but I’ve never been attracted by having to be fashionable. I prefer working in themes, for instance trying to build a new functionality into a series of tables and letting this have its own aesthetic expression. This makes the function, the architecture and the story of the piece of furniture in it self – the readability you might call it – become one and inseparable. This often happens in a spatial process where I work my way from the outside and in, and back again – several times. I perceive the piece of furniture as a part of the room it’s in and at the same time I am very attentive to the smallest of details”, elaborates Troels Grum-Schwensen.
Amongst other designs, he is known and honoured for the GRIP table system developed for Randers+Radius. As mentioned earlier, the latest award received by Troels Grum-Schwensen is for another table system, ATTACH, completed in an ambitious cooperation with Lammhults. Both systems have been on their way for many years and have roots far back in previous research, innovation and designs of Troels Grum-Schwensen.
The year-long development has been recognised with several design awards.
“The development of a renewing piece of furniture takes its time. You have to think in terms of flexibility and optimised function. It makes it necessary to spend time on every detail of the construction. It´s about creating simplicity, reducing and ‘cutting to the bone’ with a knife of consideration and a goal of precise aesthetics as a target”, claims Troels Grum-Schwensen. He underlines that the customer will not necessarily notice how you have worked every fraction of each millimetre of the design:
“When your design is finished, it must stand out as perfectly clean – as a self-explaining distillate of a thorough working process.”
Troels Grum-Schwensen works intensively with an artistic interpretation of the construction – an aspect he believes should be present at any time in the art of furniture-making, as pieces of furniture from the very beginning should be beautiful, light, movable and as sustainable as possible. He himself has contributed with essential innovations when focusing on construction, but he does not perceive himself as a technical designer.
“Minding people, and ensuring their possibilities in the architectonical space are always taking into consideration as a main objective, while using innovative construction, is just one of several ways to reach the target”, he explains, with the notion that he knows more than one entrance to the space of creativity. By definition there is room for a narrative and playful aspect:
“You can easily have a point of departure that is effervescent without lowering your level of ambition”, he continues. He has confirmed the truth of this sentence numerous times as he has contributed to experimental fairs and furniture exhibitions, such as the Cabinet Makers’ Autumn Exhibition and SKUD PÅ STAMMEN (Latest Edition, ed.) over the years.
At this year’s Cabinet Makers’ Autumn Exhibition he participates with the lounge chair DE-ÉSSE. It is meant as an honouring of Danish Modern, South European Futurism and, not to forget, the beautiful, iconic Citröen DS of 1955. The chair has until now been produced only as a prototype by EGEVÆRK, but it illustrates quite well how Troels Grum-Schwensen acknowledges his design heritage as well as admitting how pure joy from shape and form is a highly motivating factor.
“We are all standing on the shoulders of those who have come before us – but it’s important that you find your own way of doing things and still maintain a professional curiosity without being taking hostage by commercial interests.”
Troels Grum-Schwensen himself finds sources of inspiration in new methods of production, in new technology as well as in new materials. For instance, he was one of the very earliest to try out PUR, the elastic plastic material made of cells, which makes it possible to create very organic shapes and designs. The outcome of this process was the design of several chairs such as the TORO Chair made for Labofa.
The researching of new materials inspires Troels Grum-Schwensen to walk new routes and he is a particularly active contributor in the different workshops of the manufacturers, where it possible to test ideas and theories.
“After several years in the business I am starting to learn there are a lot of other things apart from the design itself that plays a part– whether it’s about architecture or design”, he states, and continues:
“How you work with manufacturers or developers where there is room for ideas and the sky is the limit and you feel the need for an innovative dialogue. It’s very important that you share your goals and the design is lifted professionally all the way from the first drawing to the final user,” Troels Grum finishes.