Sigurd Larsen opened his design studio in Berlin in 2009 after spending some years working in New York, Copenhagen and Berlin. The work of his design studio brings together high-quality materials and functionality in complex spaces, bringing light and air into spaces, and purpose and elegance to furnishings. After working on a series of beautiful houses and stunning furniture, Sigurd has taken his talents to kitchen design and collaborated with Reform CPH to create a kitchen that is beautiful, yet logical. The metals have been cut and folded to produce clean lines that provide a space for clarity and resilient use, but allow for creative freedom in the kitchen, and yield surfaces that still feel comforting to the touch and homely.
I chatted with Sigurd about his design ethos and how it was to foray into kitchen design, as well as discuss what other projects his design studio have been working on, and what’s next in his schedule.
How did you come to setting up your studio in Berlin?
While studying in Copenhagen, I started spending more and more time in Berlin, but at that time I thought it would be impossible to survive here as an architect. After graduating, I got my first job here [Berlin], but I only moved gradually and kept my furniture in Copenhagen, thinking it would all be short term. Later I founded my company, and realised that many of the people and institutions I worked with are here, so it made sense to stay. Luckily I still build houses and design products for companies in Denmark, so I go back a lot. Copenhagen and Berlin are close to each other in travel time but culturally very different, so for me it’s a privilege that I get to be a foreigner and live abroad, but still be a part of life with friends and family back home.
Where did your interest in building single-family houses stem from?
The way I see it, the house is the classic passion of an architect. You hardly need an engineer to complete it, there is a great deal of creative freedom and endless possibilities. An engineer on the other hand, has the bridge as the culmination of her profession. A bridge is designed from numbers. So basically, I always wanted to design houses.
What has been your favourite project that you’ve worked on so far?
I am very excited about The Roof House. This was a project where the client and I went for an interesting architectural topic; how to filter light. The entire roof works as a big filter, where differently inclined windows take in light from all corners of the world. This way cold blue light from the North and warm yellow light from the South can be experienced at the same time.
And then of course, I’m also excited about the Reform kitchen. There’s a great synergy that happens when a company like mine works with people like Reform. They cover a different area, so it’s really interesting so experience how they work, and how they take our design and implement it into different contexts.
Which material do you find most rewarding to work with?
Light. If there is too much you, can filter it like in Islamic architecture. If there is too little, you can augment it like in Nordic architecture. The first thing I do in all of my projects is to locate program after the movement of the sun. Everything else comes after this.
How did your collaboration with Reform come about?
We didn’t know each other before we started collaborating, I think they found out about our office as they were looking into opening a showroom in Berlin. In terms of design, we have many things in common, so I was very excited to work with them, although the kitchen is a new territory for me as an architect.
Did you approach the design of the kitchen differently to how you would design a building or piece of furniture?
Not really, with the kitchen design (which is available in white, anthracite and aluminium) we were looking for poetry in the production method. That’s something you can do regardless of the scale of the object.
Was there any particular inspiration behind this design?
The method of cutting and folding steel has its’ own logic, so many decisions where taken by the limitations and opportunities in this specific material. Besides that, we wanted a kitchen that could be part of a space with many other objects and textures. Something that is elegant through modesty is easier to combine with other things in a room.
The materials used in your design for Reform are very industrial and clean, do your prefer these over natural materials like wood and upholstery?
With most other projects we have worked a lot with materials that easily acquire patina such as wood, concrete, leather or copper. When designing a kitchen, there are a few more aspects of functionality and durability that are good to take into account. In Danish this phenomenon is called “brugskunst” which means ‘art in utilities’, this promises a poetic approach to the design of everyday things. A kitchen should be like that, functional but beautifully detailed.
Do you enjoy spending time in your own kitchen?
Absolutely. Cooking is a short term creative process, and you get to enjoy the result right away, it’s very satisfying. When projects are running a bit too long and you want to see something finished, cooking is therapy for everyone working in a creative field.
Where would you build your dream house?
Somewhere near my apartment but outside the city [Berlin] so I can go there often. For going abroad I prefer hotels, as they can be very exciting places and should remain a part of my life.
What’s next for you?
In a few weeks, we are completing two houses in Denmark. The challenge with this project was the requirement in the local plan to build sustainably, but at the same time the budget was modest, so how to make sustainable architecture affordable was an interesting journey. We spent a lot of time during the Spring designing and planning the construction, so I’m really excited to see them completed. They are located in a nice landscape of small hills an hour outside of Copenhagen.
Then we have also just received the building license for a musician’s house in western Germany, and will start working on a housing project here in Berlin, as well as a public school adapted to the German school reform.
It is a daunting prospect for any creative to delve into an unknown area, but Sigurd Larsen and Reform CPH show that it can be done with he upmost success, and in the most beautiful and modern way. It’s a rare thing to find people that look at their work in such a simple, yet logical way, and that is what has attracted me to Sigurd’s work from day one. In the new year, we will have some more design perfection from Mr. Larsen, so keep your eyes peeled.
Sigurd Larsen’s kitchen for Reform is available in White, Anthracite and Aluminium and more details are available HERE.
Tags: ikea, Reform CPH, sigurd larsen
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