Interview // Moebe
You know when you come across something so genius yet so simple that you just go a bit...... (silent) as you stand there and observe it? Yeah, that's just what happened to me when I came across the two Danes behind design studio MOEBE. It was earlier this year as I found myself in Copenhagen for the Finders Keepers Fair that I happened to stumble upon the designer duo consisting of Architect Martin D. Christensen and Cabinetmaker Anders Thams and I fell rather head-over-heels.
Their designs derive directly from the Scandinavian way of thinking - simple and honest. Being hands on during the whole process, from idea to the final product, Anders and Martin creates products that doesn't have an expiry date and that pleases a design conscious individual's eye.
1 // Who are Moebe?
Moebe is a design company, rooted in our common desire to create products with a focus on simplicity. For us it’s about creating designs that are honest in design and easy to understand – still keeping a high aesthetic standard. And then it’s also about the material, to create designs that remind us of the qualities of good materials, and why most of us simply cannot help but get excited when we are introduced to them. It is quite simple.
2 // How did it all start and how has your journey been up until now?
It all started when we met at the cabinetmaker school in Copenhagen. Anders had just quit his job within finance and Martin had chosen to take 6 months off to train as a cabinetmaker to get a better sense of craftsmanship on top of his degree in architecture. After we completed school, Anders founded a carpentry and design community called "New Lines", which Martin then quickly became part of, we quickly found that we worked well together and the idea about Moebe came together over a cup of coffee at a café in Copenhagen and so we started the company back in 2014.
The journey so far has been fantastic and our first products have been really well received. We are at the moment sketching on new products, which we hope will get the same good response..
3 // An Architect and a cabinet maker - how does this combination work?
On paper it sounds like the perfect match with creative and craftsman forces coming together and actually it is! We quickly reach quite far in our work because we can discuss the shape, design and production early in the process. At Moebe we share the designing process. It is not the architect who comes with the ideas and the carpenter, who then finds out how it can be done. It is a collaborative effort from start to finish – all are thoroughly discussed at the drawing board and we are both in the workshop when the first prototype is to be made. That said, we do of course have our own forces. Martin is by virtue of his education good with the computer and the visual presentation of our ideas, while Anders has a basic understanding of materials and craftsmanship, and can bring us from paper to a tangible product early in the process.
4 // What lies behind the name Moebe?
The name Moebe derives from 'Amoeba' (single-celled organism) that represents the simplicity in our design DNA and the word ‘Møbel' (Furniture) which says something about the type of products we design.
5 // Could you tell us a little bit about the process from idea to finished product?
Our design processes are never really the same, so it’s a bit difficult to give you a straight forward answer to how we get to the final product. But often, our designs start with the idea of a construction principle. This could for example be the idea of using a rubber band to hold an entire assembly together, as is the case with our 'FRAME' or playing around with the principle of the wedge as a structural principle, as is the case with our product 'POLYGRIFFEN'. But of course, a defined construction principle doesn’t make a good product in itself, so we go through a process of simplifying the concept until the product is stripped back in its purest form, free from any unnecessary details.
Most of the time we move quite quickly from the drawing table and onto the physical models. A design is more often related to the body and volume and it is therefore key to make concrete physical models for testing at an early stage.
6 // Your signature design is the see-through frame, how did you come up with this?
The classic clip-on picture frame has not changed much over the last several years and we thought it might be interesting to try and interpret a little on an old favourite. We wanted to make it simpler in its construction and expression while retaining the flexibility you have in a classic clip-on picture frame. In general, we think that it is cool to take an everyday object and try to boil it down to an even simpler version of itself – it doesn’t necessarily require a new feature, but just simplify it in the design and expression.
7 // What inspires you?
That’s a question we often get and which in many ways is extremely difficult to answer. Inspiration comes from many places and inspiration should probably be seen more as general impressions from the things around us. Places to visit that generally feeds our creativity are exhibitions, museums, etc. - places dealing with shape, colour and structures but not necessarily downright design.
8 // Can you some insight to what a normal day at the studio looks like?
A normal day at the studio starts with a cup of coffee and a run-through of the day's "to-do's" - which tends to be a long list.. Because we have chosen to not only be the designers, but also be in charge of the entire process from idea to finished product, we have chosen to take on a lot. We are responsible for design, product development, packaging, production, sales, accounting, etc. Some of it is fun, some of it is not so fun - but it is important for us that we have a finger in every pie, so that we can shape the company exactly the way we want it. This also give us the opportunity to form the design throughout the whole process, and not having to make compromises, which is often the case when a designer is working with manufacturers.
9 // Where is Moebe heading in the time coming and where are you 10 years from now?
We are at the moment working on a number of new products, which we hope will be in stores later this autumn. We are also slowly moving into designing larger items like lamps and furniture, so hopefully 10 years from now, our product portfolio will be filled with beautiful and functional furniture as well as homewares, still with the same attention to detail and simplicity like everything else we do.
10 // And lastly, would you have any good advice to aspiring designers wanting to follow in your footsteps?
It may sound a little corny, but in the end it’s important to 'just go for it'! So many people talk about what they want to achieve, but end up doing little about it. Our experience is that if you want something in life you need to act more and think less - harshly put;) Nothing really comes for free..