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Looking back

A story of wire II: Creating and connecting

January 28, 2018

The first part of the wire story was about figuring out the design and experimenting with parts. The next part is about professionally creating the parts and joining them in order to make a complete frame.

Despite loads of hours in the hen house, Christian and Jasper were not sure, if it was even possible to make the wire construction, they had developed.

But after a while they found a company in Jutland, which had the machines to bend wires. Christian showed up with a stack of drawings and templates.

He spent a couple of days side by side with the operator and finally they succeeded in creating what they were aiming for.

It was a big thing for the company as well. The machines can do very complex stuff, but usually people only need them to make simple parts with a few  bends, so it was exciting for them as well to push their machinery to the full potential.

“When you approach somebody with an idea, which is a bit off or different, you’ll find that some of them think that you’re completely nuts, and some think that is really exciting. It all comes down to that.”

So the single parts were created. Now they needed to put them together to create the actual frame for the chair.

Fixing and fixating

The solution was to create what Christian calls ‘welding fixtures’. A welding fixture is a like a model in which you mould something. Except this is a model in which you put in the wires, twist them and strap them down so that they create a seat. Afterwards you weld them.

“At the beginning I made them out of wood. I had to just give it a try. There is no other way when you’re working with loose parts,” Christian tells me.

Today the welding fixtures are fourth generation, meaning that they’ve been improved four times.

Christian and Jasper thought about outsourcing this part.

“But I never really met anyone who wanted to give it a shot, after they saw how complicated it was. Strangely people would rather do something simple and fast a thousand times than the other way around.”

So today the guys are still doing it themselves. At one point they need somebody else to do it, so they can focus more on development. But not at any cost. They need someone who loves the art of handcraft and loves the process. And that’s why they – for now – keep doing it themselves:

“Once we’ve lined up the whole process, it usually just makes more sense that we do it ourselves.”

Looking back

A story of wire I: Bend and bow

October 21, 2016


So as we’ve learned the upholstery was somewhat a challenge to Christian and Jasper, However, when it came to the wire part of the chair, the story was different. The wire was the fundament of the chair.

When the whole thing was still a school project they were working with a shell, and when they decided to take it to new levels, they tried to figure out how to rethink and redo it.

If you imagine that the entire chair is a shell, you have to picture that you cut through the chair from every possible angle. That will get you a bunch of curved cross sections. Each cross section forms a wire that all together create the shape of the chair.

The guys tried a lot of different versions. Some turned out more like a mesh, but finally they found the right combination of what was possible and what was aesthetic. This was what brought it to a higher level.

“It is very fundamental for our approach to design: What can you actually do with the material and what do you want to do. The handcraft and the design are united in one,” Christian says.

Started bending wire over the knee
After creating the wires – or cross sections, Christian started drawing up the construction on a computer, ensuring that both ergonomics and aesthetics were taken into account. After that it was time to build the first prototype.

“I started bending the wires. Actually I started bending them across my knee. Today it’s all made on a CNC bending machine through a computer, but back then I had created models in wood and used these to bend the wires. I spent hours in the hen house. When you are starting up like that, time is all you got. Time doesn’t cost you anything.”

There were several times when the guys considered starting all over with new moodboards instead of trying to develop their school project further.

“Because a chair really is one of the hardest things to do. But it’s also the most exciting coolest. It’s what all the great designers are known for.”

Looking back

Creating upholstery II: Meeting Kurt the Saddler

September 14, 2016


Well, so to recap, Jasper and Christian had gone to all the best of the best upholsterers in Denmark. No one could do what the guys wanted, and no one thought it to be possible.

Finally a respected and renowned upholsterer told them that nobody in Denmark could do the work they wanted. Perhaps they would be able to find somebody in Italy. But not in Denmark.

”This was just a bucket of cold water right in our faces. We hadn’t exactly a trip to Italy planned and also: who would want to work with a couple of broke kids from Denmark with an idea for a chair?

So this is when we said: Let’s do it ourselves.”

They guys starting researching the field of saddle making, and they started looking up saddlers. After some time they found a man in Hellerup, north of Copenhagen, who was educated from the last class of saddlers. 35 year ago.

They drove up to him. Kurt was his name. He didn’t want to sew anything, but he lent the guys his sewing machine. They experimented and after some time they had actually made a cushion.

”This was the first thing we could actually relate to,” Jasper tells me.

Christian and Jasper were optimistic now. They went to talk to a man who made bags in leather in Elsinore, and they went to the local leather shop to buy full-grain leather.

The first actual upholstery was sewn by hand. It took a couple of days with an awl and hand stitches.

“I hadn’t much skin left on my thumbs after that little adventure,” Jasper tells me.

”It took forever, but it gave a sense of the stiffness and the details we wanted.”

The guys started studying YouTube to figure out how to do it right. Well, mostly Jasper, who ended up being the leather/upholstery-guy in the duo with Christian being the frame-guy.

“I watched an awful lot of video clips with Americans making Stetsons and stuff like that.”

Jasper laughs. The journey of creating Overgaard & Dyrman sure took the guys to new and unknown places.

In a small town in Jutland they found a guy who sold sewing machines. They brought their upholstery to show him the processes, and he found a machine for them.

”It cost 30.000 Danish Kroner or about $5000. We didn’t have that kind of money, so we lent it from my dad. Actually I think he still owns it,” Jasper says with a smile.

This was it. The guys had made the jump into entrepreneurship.

Bonus: In November 2014 Christian and Jasper exhibited in Museumsbygningen in Copenhagen, and Kurt, the saddler, came to visit them Now they were there as equals. And equally impressed with each others work.

Looking back

Creating upholstery I: It’s just not possible

August 29, 2016


So the decision had been made. Christian and Jasper decided to make a run for it.

Now they needed to find the right subcontractors. They started seeking out upholsterers. Who is the best? Who can do what?

Jasper and Christian engaged with a small company who was very keen on the project. They made some of it and returned it to the guys. But Jasper and Christian weren’t happy.

”The thing was that we already knew what we wanted. Or sort of at least. But we didn’t know how to articulate it. We didn’t know how to explain our ideas. So the output never looked like what was in our heads.”

The guys started looking into the art of saddle making for their upholstery. Within this tradition you use full-grain leather for stiffness and soft leather for comfort.
Denmark has a long and renowned tradition of creating furniture with a lot of skilled craftsmen and designers during history. But in spite of this, Christian and Jasper found nobody that had experience using the handcraft of saddle making in the creation of furniture. Nobody knew how.

In Denmark we typically make upholstered furniture in two ways. One is where the upholstery is sewn inside out like with a classic cushion. And the most common way is the one known from many of the classics like Arne Jacobsens Egg and Swan chairs and the Papa Bear chair by Hans J. Wegner. This is where a supporting structure or frame is covered with foam and fabric or leather.

”But neither of that worked for us. We wanted to uncover the construction, the metal frame, but also we couldn’t go with the classic cushions. It would become all wobbly and wouldn’t work. So we needed the stiffness of a thick full-grain leather that would become self-supporting as in the case of a horseback saddle.”

Christian and Jasper went to the best upholsterers in the country; the ones that did upholstery for the greatest Danish design brands.

But they all only knew the inside-out and wrapping techniques. Their suggestion to a solution to the upholstery challenge was to use velcro when making the attachments to the wire frame.

“When they said that we were pretty sure that they weren’t the right ones for us. Even though they were the best – and only ones – out there.”

Looking back

The decision to create a company

June 22, 2015


By now (in the timeline) one and a half or two years have gone by, since Christian and Jasper graduated. They are in each their part of the country and have good and well-paid jobs.

But they’re not satisfied. They’re not fulfilled.

And a decision is made: They create their own company.

In November 2012 they cut down their regular jobs to half time jobs.

”It’s definitely a luxury to be able to do that. But I guess out companies knew that the alternative was that we were going to leave.”

After three months the urge to create something on their own is getting more and more explicit. Work starts to become something that needs to get done.

”It just doesn’t work to feel that way. Not for us and not for our workplaces,” says Jasper.

It wasn’t about the job or the workplace, however. Jasper tells me, he doesn’t think he would be able to find a better place to work in terms of creativity and the approach to design.

“But the feeling of something missing in my life couldn’t be solved by finding another job. The job was almost perfect. But it didn’t make the longing of creating something by myself go away. I missed following the product from the first sketch to the final product – without ever having to compromise.”

For Christian it was bit different. He wasn’t really happy at his job. His tasks weren’t within his area of interest. But that wasn’t what bothered him the most.

“I had a lot of responsibility, but no authority. That doesn’t work for me. For me it’s not about having a company or not, it’s about being able to control and structure your day and tasks. Creating our own company was a possibility for me to get responsibility and authority in order to make things happen.”

At February 2013 the guys quit their jobs.

Looking back

Asian attempts and Danish determination

May 25, 2015


Well, the idea for the Wire Collection, or actually just for the Wire Dining Chair, appeared, while the two boys were studying. We know that by now.

When they graduated, they started each their job. Jasper as a Senior Product Designer at a strategic design consultancy and Christian as Industrial Designer and Project Manager at a textile- and furniture company. While working here, Christian and Jasper were contacted by a design brand, who wanted to bring them and the chair project into their business. So the chair project continued on the side, and the guys were still working at their regular jobs.

They made, what they call ”idiot-proof production material”, which was sent to India.

”But what came back wasn’t even near what we wanted it to be,” says Jasper and adds:

“We learned something about how complex the development from drawings to the end product is. But apart from that it really was a lousy product and a lousy communication.”

Later on some other company was interested in Christian and Jasper and the chair. They tried the same ting – this time with China. And the same result: A completely hopeless prototype was returned.

”They just didn’t understand the whole idea of it. And I think deep inside we knew that they wouldn’t succeed, but we were running out of options and just really wanted something good to happen,” Jasper remembers. The craft itself was miserable. The communication was ridiculous.

”We’ve spent so much time making this material, so that it would be easy for them to produce. But they didn’t time reading it. They didn’t understand the importance of quality.”

Christian and Jasper still believed in the product. And all the interested companies (there were more than these two) confirmed their belief. Apart from the belief in the product itself, something else grew: the urge to control the whole thing themselves.

The guys never liked the concept of drawing and developing products and sending them off and then being out of the process.

”We wanted to get sore muscles and blisters on our hands rather than ending up with RSI from using a computer mouse,” Jasper says.



Looking back

When the dream started to grow – part II

May 7, 2015


[continued from here]

But at one point Christian and Jasper started to enter into the realms of design. They found the space and time to immerse themselves into a new world. And into the idea of being a vital part of this world. It was an exciting, but still very vague thought.

However, the sense of reason was still there. A thin layer of reason and rationality wrapped around the big chunk of dreams and ambitions.

”It’s important to get some experience from the real world.”

”We don’t know if this is right for us.”

”Maybe we should become royalty designers and design for others. Like most people do in this industry.”

The idea of starting something together kept popping up. But it was shapeless. They didn’t know where to start or what to do.

So they finished school and had normal adult jobs within design. But at some point the urge to create something for themselves outgrew the ’Project Money in the Bank’. The dreams and ambitions conquered. One of the motivating factors were the many attempts from external design companies trying to put the Christian and Jasper designs into production via partners in India and China. This was not successful at all and caused a lot of frustration for Christian and Jasper. More about that later.

”At one point we realized we had to go all in to make this happen. Nobody else could do it, and we couldn’t do what we were really passionate about while having a regular job on the side. This epiphany was probably the first real ground stone for Overgaard & Dyrman.”

Looking back

When the dream started to grow – part I

May 4, 2015


The dream and the whole idea about building something wasn’t really about giving shape to things at the time. It was just as much about thinking alike.

”At that point we thought that we both had the same set of skills,” Jasper tells me. ”But later on we’ve found out that we have very different skills and we rely on each other and our abilities. Early on it was more of a clash and we could discuss even the smallest things forever, because no one would yield.”

What the guys did agree on, however, was how to work, how to use resources and the ideas of sustainability. They read a lot about it and kept gathering knowledge on the subjects of interest, and they worked together with Risoe Research Center, a Danish technological and scientific research institution, exploring the potential in shaping with biobased plastic.

But it wasn’t all highflying thoughts of an idealistic future and changing the world of design:

”I still have a piece of paper, which I gave to Chris and some other guys at the third semester in Aalborg. It was full of ideas that could be carried out and which would earn us some money. The title was ’Project money in the bank”, Jasper says.

“Later on I realized it had nothing to do with ‘money in the bank’, but it was all about the liberty to do something, I was really passionate about, without being limited by the demands and needs of others.”

[to be continued]

Looking back

The meeting

April 24, 2015


Denmark is a small country. You will typically not be much more than somewhat 250 kilometers apart. With exceptions to every rule of course. But this was exactly what Christian and Jasper were, before they – by chance – met at Aalborg University in 2005.

Christian lived in Aalborg and was a blacksmith apprentice, but wanted to continue his education and applied to the Bachelor of Architecture and Design at Aalborg University.

Jasper, who lived in Copenhagen, has started a civil engineer education, but felt that the creative part was missing. The day before a five months journey abroad he applied to Aalborg University.  This was – by the way – a fact, which he hadn’t really considered, until the letter of acceptance occurred the next summer in Copenhagen and read that he was accepted to Aalborg University…four weeks before semester start.


Jasper and Christian ended up in the same group of six students on the first date, and it didn’t take long to recognize that these two guys had a certain shared way of thinking.

They kept choosing to be in the same group and constantly tried to get away with doing things together. They enjoyed working with others, but at one point it became a complicated matter to make six people with different ideas about design agree. So at the end, when Christian and Jasper’s classmates were probably getting tired of being abandoned by the duo, they picked up the academic regulations, read it closely and found a loophole, which meant that they from that time on could be a group of just two students. The Jasper and Christian constellation was born.

Christian and Jasper weren’t all happy about how the education was carried out.  They thought it to be unwieldy, and they didn’t appreciate the fact that you could finish an assignment just by handing in a 100 pages of report and never create a product.

They missed the workspaces. The hands on. The craftsmanship. So as they studied they were making all kinds of projects all around.

At the 7th semester Christian applied for an internship in Copenhagen in fall 2008, and in the spring Jasper applied to the Danish Design School in Copenhagen. They found an apartment, they could share, and the talk, the ideas, the thoughts and the plans of making something together grew stronger. After a while, in the fall of 2009, Christian decided also to apply to the Danish Design School. Overgaard & Dyrman was in the making.

Looking back

Old dairy and new showroom

February 18, 2015

Billede 12-09-14 10.22.17It’s September 2014 and I’m visiting Jasper and Christian just outside of Roskilde at their new show room. They are both quite excited about the fact that they are actually going to have a show room. And a work place for Jasper’s leather work. They are also tired as they are fixing everything themselves.

We share some ryebread, ham and paté for lunch, and with a post-coffee and a piece of chocolate we tour around the premises to check out this beautiful landly place, which was also Jasper’s childhood home.

We sneak into the small room filled with leather, where Jasper is currently working, and move on to the great ballroom.

”This is where we’ll have a giant party when….well, when we can afford to have it. For everyone that’s been part of the journey,” says Jasper.

We head outside to the green and lush garden, and Jasper explains, how the old dairy trucks backed up to the house here to get loaded, and where the old fountain ran.

There is no doubt. The boys are happy about their next step, the showroom. But there is always something flickering in the back of the head.

”I know this is what we need to do,” says Christian.

”But one of the reasons we’ve made it this far, is that we stayed away from fixed expenses. But I guess at one point we have to invest something to get something back.”

Billede 15-08-14 17.02.44Billede 15-11-14 20.02.41