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The responsibility that comes

August 23, 2015

Skærmbillede 2015-08-23 kl. 16.01.35

When Christian and Jasper started working together at first, they talked a lot about sustainability and CSR. They read a lot about the cradle-to-cradle-philosophy. It’s a serious approach to sustainability.

”Earlier on the question of sustainability has been answered by a few mantras and company buzzwords like ’remember to reuse’ and ’remember to economize’. But there hasn’t been anything, which the industry could actually implement effectively. This philosophy could.”

The main idea of the cradle-to-cradle-philosophy is that all products can be taken a part, so that the materials can be sorted and reused or properly destroyed. Also it is important to trace your materials.

”Our chair can be taken a part. You can put the steel in a pile with more steel, and you can burn the upholstery. You wouldn’t be able to do that with a chair wrapped in foam and moulded.”

Tracing materials is hard, but fortunately it gets easier every day. Christian and Jasper are not fanatics, but they try their best. They want to feel okay about their material and they want to have a sense of what is in their delivery and where it originates. They make sure that the foam doesn’t contain dangerous chemicals like some do, and they know that the steel comes from a mine in Sweden.

”Obviously this approach needs to develop throughout generations. It is a community and fellowship we need to build. Every supplier, every manufacturer and every design needs to take responsibility for their part.”

Sustainability is about responsibility, and in the same way the guys want to be responsible about environment and resources, they also want to be responsible as employers, when that day comes.

”In the future we want to be good employers and have a cool company. It’s closely related to the idea of good handcraft: It’s way more fun to have people working for you, who are also fond the art of handcraft and at the same think the company an awesome place to be. And that way you’ll get good products and everybody wins.”


Production – a question of proximity and nerdiness

June 29, 2015


At first the guys thought about handling the production in the traditional way where the designer collaborates with a manufacturer.

”But when you are producing things with the quality and the level of details that we do, good communication and a trust between designer and manufacturer is vital. We believe, also based on experience we’ve had with China and India, that proximity is necessary to make quality.”

So Christian and Jasper produce their own furniture.

Of course some of the components are made by subsuppliers. But the point is that the guys don’t force their design to fit some existing production facilities. It’s a question of what they need to create their design, rather than what is available to create design from. This is also why they had to invent a range of tools and moulds by themselves. In order to make the components they needed, they had to create tools that could make those components.

“A designer’s freedom is quickly limited by the height, width and thickness of the foam, the limitations of bending wire parts and other things based on how things are now at this very moment. But that’s is not what we want.”

Christian and Jasper want to be in it. In the design and in the process. They want to follow and understand the process instead of being left with an idea that you have to just hope that a craftsman can turn into reality. Pretty much like in the case of the upholstery back at the very beginning.

Besides all this, at the end of the day this is also what gives the guys a kick. Where they turn into craft-geeks.

“We just flat out love the crafts part. Sitting around with materials, shaping and experimenting and then all of sudden you have created something. Not everyone gets to experience that. Everyone loves to see things being brought to life, but not everyone has the pleasure of actually doing it yourself.”


Where do ideas come from?

May 20, 2015


”Well, it’s hard to say what inspires you to something particular. We both have a passion for traditional handcraft, details, materials and structural elements. But it’s hard to pinpoint the exact inspiration.” This is Christian contemplating.

I guess it is a hard question to answer. Because where do ideas come from?

Something which is obvious to both the creators and the spectators of the Wire Collection and Jasper’s and Christian’s work in general is the structural backhand. These guys want to optimize constructions. But the forming is just as important. What do the materials do? How are the ergonomics? How do we combine those two things? How do we make it both comfortable and functional, beautiful and sustainable?

This vision is probably also the reason that Christian and Jasper in one of their study projects made a tall toddler chair.

”That is the ultimate challenge. There are so many demands and needs. So many aspects to consider. And it still needs to be an aesthetic piece of furniture.”

Apart from the demands of flexibility, ergonomics, hygiene, safety and aesthetics, the guys made another challenge for themselves: the toddler chair had to be completely foldable, so that you could bring it in your car or stow it away, when it wasn’t needed.

Christian and Jasper are perfectionists. They are always looking to improve. Some people ask why they spend time and money changing details like a millimeter in a small joint part, when nobody will ever notice.

But the two of them will notice. It means everything to them that it feels right. And if you don’t adjust all the small things, then at one point you have destroyed the entity.

”You just know when you have reached the right solution. It’s dead-awful to make something and know there is something better out there,” Christian says.

It’s not all idealistic glory and pink skies, though.

”We can get nauseas about our difficult solutions ourselves too. But that, then, is what justifies us being here. That we don’t choose the easy way out. We are suckers for slow design. Not that it has to be slow, but the things we choose to do just are slow. It takes time to find a solution to the challenge. And we want the best solution. Not a compromise. Not a quick-fix.”


Why so much talk about the good handcraft part II?

April 26, 2015



Over here Christian talked about what he called the ”rather highbrowed reasons” to Overgaard & Dyrman’s fascination with good crafts. Now for the down to earth version.

Christian is son of a craftsman, and Jasper’s dad has also been a handyman working on the old dairy, where the boys now have their showroom.

Also Christian is a black smith by education and has learned a lot about working with materials. He knows how they function and cooperate – probably in contrast to a lot of designers who are sitting at their desks drawing stuff, they hope will work in real life too.

”We are quite fascinated with the capacities of materials. We start off by thinking for instance ”what does wood do and how do we create the best possible solution with it?” instead of trying to force something on the material that it’s not capable of.”

Christian compares it to the fascination of 3D print today. With 3D print the base is the technology – what can you do with the technology of today?

”But at one point this will be accessible to everyone and will be obsolete. So we’re more fund of using the materials and their characteristics as a base.”


Other than that there’s a genuine and perhaps a bit old-fashioned fascination of the everlasting materials. Materials like leather, wood and steel.

”You can create something really exquisite. Not something modern, but something really really good.”

Lastly the fascination of the good handcraft is also a reaction to the buy-and-throw-away-lifestyle. Christian and Jasper make expensive products. Not because that’s what they want to do, but because what they make become expensive. Also this means that they don’t expect people to come back and buy their products. Obviously they would want people to come back to buy more of their products, but not because they break. Because of exactly the opposite.

”Hopefully they will have them all their life. And that’s wonderful. Maybe they can even pass them on through generations.”

But is that a business model, you might think?

Christian brings up an anecdote. An anecdote about the light bulb. It’s from a documentary that everybody has seen. Apparently. But I haven’t.


Anyway, the main point is that you can actually create light bulbs, which will last for 80 years. But of you do that, you can’t sell enough to make a business. So you design them to stop working after a while. Just like you, allegedly, do with cellphones and computers. Everything crashes once the warranty has expired.

”But we don’t want to do that. That’s not what we have based our business on. I don’t think it’ll end us. You’ll just have to constantly keep making good products. And then you’ll have to try to make things that are timeless. You don’t know if you are doing it, but you can try. And as long as you don’t base your products on trends, I guess the chance to be timeless gets bigger.”


Why so much talk about the good handcraft part I?  

April 16, 2015


“In the beginning we were really tired of the whole China- and India-scheme. Everybody sending their designs across the world to get manufactured, and it seemed like the whole process and approach didn’t matter. If people send their products away, they completely lose touch and don’t know anything about the handcraft or the process.”

Christian is trying to explain to me, why good handcraft is so important to Overgaard & Dyrman. Obviously the guys have been there themselves – in the China-India-game, but you live, you learn.

“But as somebody once told us: It’s so easy to say what you’re against and what you don’t want instead of what you love and want to do.”

So Christian wants to tell me what they love instead of what they don’t love. And he starts off with “the rather highbrowed part of the reason”, as he puts it.

Both Jasper and Christian come from educations where they learned a great deal about architecture, the history of design and about the thoughts from the past. And this was part of what intrigued them to look back. This and probably also a reaction to the world of plastic, we’ve experienced the past 20 years.

“What we’ve learned, when we look back at Danish and foreign traditions from around 1900 and in the golden age of the 60’s, is that people actually wanted to spend time creating things. If you take a walk around town and look at the houses – especially the houses before world war II, then you’ll see that it’s much more than the square boxy design, you see today. A man has spent time figuring out a beautiful pattern of bricks, unlike today when it is utterly boring. Cheap and effective, yes, but without identity.”

For Christian and Jasper it’s the same thing when it comes to furniture design. They feel that too many lean up against what they know and are afraid to actually be original.