This is the story of three Danish design companies: Anour, Thors-Design and LE KLINT. They create furniture and lamps from brass, old wood and paper. Here is why they believe handmade quality is the way to gain an upper hand in the design industry.
The human hand may be the greatest tool ever. Just think about it. Whenever we want to distinguish a product as extraordinary, we tell people that it is made by hand. This is especially evident when talking about Swiss watches, Italian sports cars and bespoke suits. However, handmade quality is also important in the world of designer furniture, because, unique designs go hand in hand with skilled craftsmanship.
We begin by looking at a lightning company. Anour means “light” in Farsi, which fits perfectly with the name of the company’s founder Arash Nourinejad (A.nour). Anour produces lamps in a distinctive rectangular style in brass, copper, wood or steel. The lamps are customisable in numerous ways, which makes it impossible for machines to duplicate the ever-changing design.
Anour uses braziers, who are artisans that specialise in shaping delicate metals. The braziers bend the metal gently into shape and sand down the pieces by hand, so everything fits together like a glove. The pieces of a lamp are then welded together using a complex technique called silver soldering. Then, the braziers treat the metal and polish it. Finally, Anour deftly integrates the electronics.
“I believe there is perfection in imperfection. The treatment of the metal and the combination of hand sanding and silver soldering gives each lamp its own distinctive look. Our handmade products are made by expert braziers,” stated Arash Nourinejad.
Next up is Carsten Thor. He builds tables worthy of a certain Norse thunder god. His company THORS-DESIGN uses wood reclaimed from decommissioned Danish harbours. The wood is azobé wood, also known as African ironwood. It has lived a long hard life on the docks partially submerged in salt water and exposed to the Scandinavian climate. Carsten Thor and his employees are bringing new life to the weathered material by turning it into furniture.
“The azobé wood is 70 years old and it is like no other type of wood. I am not even sure it is suitable for furniture making because you cannot use regular production methods. Instead, we nurture each individual piece of wood and adapt the product to its shape and grain,” stated Carsten Thor.
Each finished table is assembled at the customer’s home. Then, it takes six months for the wood to completely dry out and look the way it will for the rest of its life. The result is a piece of raw wooden beauty.
Anour and Thors-Design are bringing life back to old professions and materials. That is an impressive feat. Nevertheless, here is a company that has kept the handmade tradition alive all this time and refined it with modern standards. It is called LE KLINT and it is famous for making hand-folded lampshades.
LE KLINT’s lamps come in many elegant shapes and sizes. The lampshades are made of paper or plastic and are pleated by hand in LE KLINT’s studio in Odense, Denmark. There, the artisans are called pleating technicians, or colloquially as “pleating ladies”. The job requires steady hands and it takes three years to master all the different lamp designs and become a fully trained pleating technician.
Multiple engineers have tried to design machines to replace the pleating ladies. However, no machine has ever mastered the gentle art of folding material into an elegant lampshade.
This year, LE KLINT celebrates its 75th anniversary. Today, it also produces contemporary lamps in other materials. However, the hand-pleated lampshades remain at the heart of the design company.