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.




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.”

Going on

Going big and actually letting go

May 10, 2015


The guys have decided that they will make a grand effort for the Stockholm Furniture Fair 2016, and the preparations have already started. In order to make a cool design for the fair, they have met with a company, which specializes in walls. Also for the first time Christian and Jasper have put some of their “always do it yourself” aside and have hired a professional photographer. They both agreed it was amazing to have somebody with the right skills and equipment take the pictures and do his thing.

“Actually it was kind of an eye opener for me to see, how important it is to delegate some of the assignment, if we want to grow bigger. Until now we’ve had no other options than doing everything ourselves, but now I think we are heading towards a new phase, where we can focus on the things that we do best and let other people do what they do best.”

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]

Going on

Film: Passion of the making

April 27, 2015

Billede 22-10-14 15.32.20

A part time filmmaker and old friend of Jasper heard about the O & D-project. And loved it of course. Just as much as I did, when I first heard of the story. So he and a friend of his decided to make a small movie about the Overgaard & Dyrman universe.

Two days of workshop, retakes, metalwork, leatherwork and cameras running resulted in this fabulous piece. It shows Jasper and Christian and the whole O&D universe in a very neat way:


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.”

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.

Going on

Collaboration across countries and professions

April 22, 2015


A few weeks ago Jasper and Christian had a visitor at the showroom. Her name was Dagmar Kestner and she is a young fashion designer from Berlin. Dagmar Kestner is a part of the Worth Project, which is a EU-funded project focusing on making connections and crossing borders with design, craft and manufacturer across Europe.

Dagmar Kestner is not a furniture designer. But Jasper and Christian are fascinated with her techniques and the details in her work. In about six months the exciting collaboration between Dagmar and Overgaard and Dyrman will result in an innovative new product. And while Dagmar and a Worth Project representative were working in the showroom, Christian and Jasper had a chat.

“While Dagmar and the representative were working, and a painter was preparing walls for a photoshoot, we talked about how cool it was that things were happening without our interference. It’s just perfect to see the company evolve, even without our hands carrying out the work.”


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.