“A piece of furniture is a success when it invites you to use it and does not require too much explanation”
That’s the opinion of Danish furniture designer Sebastian Jørgensen.
The lines are at the same time severe and gentle, the surfaces shaped with devotion to create simple, geometric forms, and the combination of ease and comfort stands out. Danish company We Do Wood is one of the best producers around of furniture created in a pure, unpretentious style with clear references to classical the design heritage.
“Good furniture is not necessarily something that turns all concepts on their head and represents something new and previously unseen. We have nothing against standing on the shoulders of past examples of good, classic design, such as Eames and Wegner, and being the next phase in a modern tradition. The main thing for us is to create furniture that is honest in both its actual function and its visual expression. Good furniture must quite simply stand there and invite you to use it” explains We Do Wood.
A small, practical and simply designed chair built for Sebastian Jørgensen’s daughter, who was two at the time, became the basis of the current range of furniture – all produced using bamboo. But whatever piece of furniture, the consistent approach is that functionality must be the key, and that the product must be able to fit smoothly into people’s everyday lives. The design process usually starts with one of Sebastian Jørgensen’s sketches or models – and the design process is more often about taking away from than adding to.
“It often lends strength to the form and function of a piece of furniture if you pare it down to the bone and focus on the clear, simple idea! We’re very keen to see anything unnecessary cut away, so that the shape doesn’t require too much explanation, but is so clear and obvious that it couldn’t have been any other way, when you finally stand there with the finished product in front of you,” explains Sebastian Jørgensen.
Having been an artist previously, he draws inspiration from the work methods that he practised and refined in the past, and which have now been transformed into a way of viewing the thought process from initial concept to finished object.
“If you try desperately to find something new, it just won’t happen. But if you work your way into the design process and apply some direction, every now and then some opportunities arise that you hadn’t seen before. Even if art involves a completely different kind of storytelling, the comparison still applies, because it’s about an intellectual way of approaching your material,” he explains.
But even if We Do Wood has no ambitions to revolutionise the art of furniture-making and has instead values such as quality, functionality and honesty at the top of its agenda, the company’s furniture is nevertheless a part of the minor revolution in recent years in the field of design, namely the trend towards sustainability.
This new dimension in modern design is about environmental protection in its widest sense. For us it begins with the material, bamboo, which recirculates far more CO2 than Nordic types of wood, which have traditionally been used in Danish furniture. Then it’s a question of, for example, reducing the amount of glue in the products, because that has a positive effect on the indoor climate – and last, but not least the good thing about a nice piece of furniture is that you don’t want to get rid of it. And that quite definitely has a resource-saving function!
The strong vision of sustainability that permeates the work of We Do Wood has played a role in setting new standards in the world of Danish design, and We Do Wood is often described as a significant contribution towards making sustainable furniture production interesting in wider circles. And there are plenty more products on the drawing board.
“We don’t see the concept of sustainability as a passing phase, we view it as our very foundation. Ethics and aesthetics must go hand in hand. And the opportunities are endless, once you’ve started investigating a material like bamboo – we just can’t walk away from it … ” explains We Do Wood.