DANISH™ visited the award-winning Danish design firm OEO Studio to talk about how they approach design projects in their own unique ways.
At OEO studios, they follow the simple mantra that all of their designs need to have a ”reason for being”. This is expressed in how they approach the process, i.e. in furniture design. Founding Partner and Head of Design Thomas Lykke explains;
”There’s millions of different chairs and tables out there, so how do you create a new table, one that has its own reason to exist in this crowded world? In our view, it needs to have a simplicity but it should bring something unique to the market at the same time. It’s all about finding the right balance, and that’s very hard, but also greatly satisfying when that happens.”
In regard to OEOs interior architecture they always start off their creative process in a very analogue way by sitting together in a room collecting the strongest ideas and conceptual thoughts before any technological devices enter the picture.
“It is very important to us to start the process in this way, but it can be tricky in proportion to our customer contact as the majority of the creative development is done by hand. That’s also why we consider ourselves lucky to have business partners who trust us and what we do”, says Managing Partner Anne-Marie Buemann.
One of the most essential things about OEO according to themselves is their uncompromising approach to each of their projects.
“We choose to do only what we truly consider to be the right thing. We know that we potentially could have made a lot more profit if we had been willing to just please the masses and go for the obvious and easy solutions, but we also believe that this is what makes us who we are: we want to deliver only the highest quality”, says Thomas Lykke.
The workspace of OEO is surrounded by hundreds of inspirational items shelved all along its walls, “and there’s always room for more, if we pick up something interesting along the way”, states Thomas Lykke.
”Sometimes you stumble upon something special or interesting when travelling or just by walking along the beach. You might find a rock with a fascinating tactility or something with an exciting blend of colours: it could be anything from a smooth surface to an intriguing patina.”
Thomas Lykke continues; “Most of the stuff on the walls here have been used in some way – often by coincidence during the design process. Typically, the idea just pops in to your head and you go pick it up, whether it’s a Japanese potsherd or a small heirloom from your grandad”.
“It’s a living toolbox that we implement in a lot of our creative processes: it’s not only for display. It is something that we like to utilize as some sort of library of ideas”, adds Anne-Marie Buemann.
One of the things OEO are most proud of is one of their on-going projects called Japan Handmade. This is a brand collaboration with six crafts companies from Kyoto with an aim to gain greater exposure and push the boundaries of Japanese crafts and design.
“This collaboration is a class example of our vision of becoming greater than just the product. It is about culture, business and people. To be able to support these craftsmen in defining their vision has been a great joy for us. It makes us very proud to see that this has made a crucial difference for actual people – some of whom may have had a hard time providing for their family in the past and now they are receiving requests from all over the world. That is a beautiful thing to be a part of”, says Thomas Lykke.
“This has also had a noticeable effect on the whole culture of Japanese design as these craftsmen have ended up as role models for the younger generation. They have shown that it is possible to uphold traditional Japanese handcraft”, adds Anne-Marie Buemann.
When you look at the future for OEO Studio, the path is quite clear. They have always had the habit of pinning down their dream projects and longtime goals and nothing is considered too big or too small, they say. Lately, Thomas Lykke has been joking around the office with the thought of designing a super-sonic airplane, as he says, “That would be really fun to do – so far we’ve succeeded in fulfilling many of our dreams over the years, so why not!”.