Danish architect, interior decorator and furniture designer Mads Emil Garde uses discrete contrasts to design state-of-the-art projects. His company is called GARDE. and no task is too big or too small – as long as scale-wandering is possible
Imagine an indoor fireplace. Build with bricks and steel, yet organic in its shape. The fire is lit. Now enhance the proportions times 9 or shrink yourself equally. Either way you now have the possibility of entering the fireplace – sitting right next to the warm fire. There is a place in Norway where you don´t have to use magic or imagination to be able to enjoy this extravagance. It´s in the lobby of a small, privately owned luxury hotel called Hotel Brosundet in Ålesund and the architect and interior decorator behind the hotel is GARDE.
GARDE is founded by architect Mads Emil Garde, who is also educated in furniture design and interior architecture. GARDE works out of Denmark with projects varying from singular furniture pieces to entire buildings such as Hotel Brosundet with the gigantic fireplace in Norway:
“Not only the lobby and the fireplace but that entire hotel is a very good example of how GARDE work: Initially Brosundet started out as a transformation of 47 rooms in a listed building back in 2007, yet the fireplace and its 18 meters is not established until 10 years later, but my philosophy of working with subtle contrasts in a room and with materials have ensured a continuity and a relevance throughout the hotel, that I feel very proud of”, explains Mads Emil Garde.
Receptive rooms and spaces
Other than the rooms and the lobby, GARDE has been involved in transforming everything over a period of 10 years: from breakfast room, reception, bar and restaurant, and he even had his hands on two additional buildings to the hotel:
“There are two things that I don´t compromise about: One is that anything you touch have to be soft, rounded, responsive. It should receive and approach. Our bodies are not machines, so it´s my responsibility to ensure that the furniture in a room make people feel welcome. The other thing is to always work with contrasts. This can be in shapes, in materials, in the spatial feeling or similar. It does not have to be an explicit contrast, less will actually do better, but that´s what I always end up finding appealing”.
He exemplifies that statement with the fireplace at Brosundet: It´s shaped like the flame. Round at the bottom and the becomes long and narrow as your eyes follow the chimney – all very organic. In contrast to this are the materials chosen, which are bricks and steal which for most people are considered to be rough and maybe even cold?
The attentive reader will at this point have noticed that Mads Emil Garde without hesitation takes on tasks in various scales. This, simply due to the fact, that he is the proud owner of three different educations which enables him to support a client with professional competencies all the way from designing the building becoming a hotel to the cutlery or seating provided in the restaurant:
“Applying for the school of Architecture I was inspired by the great Danish architects giving birth to Danish Modern. They navigated without hesitation between buildings, to furniture, lighting and cutlery and back again, which is called Gesamtkunstwerk. This was what I wanted to do, even if it would require three different educations”, Mads Emil smiles and continues:
“This is what GARDE does differently. I´m not just an interior decorator, or an architect, I take pride in taking part in the design and planning of all the elements a project is comprised of. This means getting a grip on all the technical elements in a building as well as understanding how the end user will work and live in the finished house.
Good looking design is only good when it works well for the people who is going to use it in the end”, he says.
Various scales – preferred projects
Let´s crawl back into the huge fireplace at Brosundet. Thus, projects like Brosundet that fall under the category hospitality and retail are preferred ones at GARDE. Mads Emil Garde enjoys the time and pressure in these kinds of projects followed by unforeseen situations:
“My ability to work in various scales makes it relevant for me to take part from the very first conceptual meetings through the whole building process to the final inauguration. Design projects for hospitality and retail often have very short deadlines where decisions have to be taken very quickly. With my diverse qualifications at hand I am both equipped and very much enjoy taking part in the design and building process”, he explains.
All though the transformation in Brosundet did not happen overnight the project offered the opportunity for GARDE to ensure that the concept was followed through in every detail and scale.