Today I am happy to share with you an interesting chat about design with Jørn Broen Christensen, founder of Broen Design.
He is the creator behind the Squiggle Lamp, a minimalist nordic lamp design recently launched in Denmark.
In our little chat we talked about the design process behind a new product, about Scandinavian and Danish design, about the meaning of design today. We also chatted about the Squiggle Lamp, a new lighting design born with the idea to tell a story about the transition from linear to natural aesthetics.
I love it because it is a new organic design while being at the same minimalist, meeting my love for clean design products. You can also find the lamp design in this article about the 3 Interior Design Trends to stay in 2020/2021.
Want to win a Squiggle Lamp?
Make sure to follow Broen Design on Instagram here and guess where the lamp is. Fingers crossed!!
E: Tell us a bit about your experience and formation? When and how did you started working as a designer?
J.B.: First it seems like a banale question – How did you begin.
But it is fundamentally a question about how we make decisions in life. We make decisions about something we don’t really know what is. And then we try to do it. You make the decision to jump into something new, but you don’t know what it is you jump into.
Even though there is a formative process leading up to it, at some point you need to make the decision and tell yourself – I want to be an autodidact designer. I basically made that decision overnight when I was 27. Then to say – I AM an autodidact designer – was a much longer process.
Two things developed me.
Constantly whipping myself and being critical to myself. Always asking myself from a critical perspective – What is wrong now? How could this be better? I’m not saying others should do it this way – but its how I did it. My point is this. After all – you are always much more critical to yourself than a teacher would ever be if you decided you can’t live without it. Being a designer.
The other thing was freedom! I have the freedom to do what I think is right. I didn’t have to please a teacher or a system of thoughts. This can of course be very lonely, but not having to perform in an institutionalized system is a huge advantage if you are motivated.
As you can probably imagine I can talk a lot about how this “materialized” in doing things differently than how you would do, if you came from a school. But it will be too long here.
E: Tell us a bit more about the idea behind the organic yet 202minimalist nordic design of Squiggle Lamp.
J.B.: I will refer to this article, as I don’t think I can explain it more clear than this: Squiggle Lamp – the design idea
E: We are also interested to know about the production process behind the lamp.
J.B.: Instead of going into details about producing the Squiggle lamp, I will continue on bullet point 1. I have to keep a few secrets to myself about bending tubes and I will refer to this video.
A fundamental difference to how I do things compared to the way that is taught at schools is that I know a lot about production. When most designers go to design fairs to see the latest trends I go to subcontractor fairs in the metal industry.
The general belief is that drawing what a machine can make is limiting your creativity. That is not so. I believe that not knowing what machines can do limit your creativity. After spending 2 days looking at the stuff crazy machines can do, your mind is bubbling with endless creative possibilities that can actually be made.
Squiggle is made on one of these crazy machines that you would not know about if you didn’t try to understand the world of machines.
E: “Design is to make a change of meaning in the shaping of materials when creating a functional product.” What is the role of materials in a design?
J.B.: Materials are for design what letters are for poetry.
E: “We believe that product design consumer want designbased design.” Could you explain us a bit more this concept?
J.B.: Put simple too many product are designed to fit a business model or a brand. And too much design is made to please the consumer. I understand it’s very easy to make this point, but let me just give one recent example of a product design that insist on being designed on its own terms.
This is a product that 95 % of people thought was ugly when they saw it. But a week later 250.000 people was willing to pay 60.000 $ for the product. I’m talking about the Tesla Cybertruck. Tesla’s new truck is a rare and unique example of how design is able to fundamentally change our perspective on things. Design can change our opinions.
But today design is mostly an ad on to something else.
E: The object you would like to design and still not did yet.
J.B.: I already did it. Its a chair waiting for production :)
Well – In line with the above I would like to work with much more abstract shapes.
Making functional products with abstract shapes where the user infers his own interpretation in understanding the product.
E: You live in Denmark. How is working as a designer there? What do you think about Scandinavian design?
J.B.:I believe the Danish painter Hammershøj is the best communicator of Scandinavian seclusion. By this I mean that when darkness come in the autumn and winter we isolate ourselves and try to keep things simple. We leave out what is not necessary and we try to find nuances of meaning in the grey and the darkness.
I don’t think we can escape this or change this.
And I don’t think it will ever be the role of the Scandinavians to give the world colourful temperament. But I think we can give it thoughtfulness.
And I think this is the role of Scandinavian design. Making thoughtful products.
E: What do you think is the role of designers nowadays?
J.B.: In the last 25 years danish design has been torn between pleasing needs of businesses on the one side and a group of idealistic craftsmen on the other side. This has left of designers in limbo to often with no defined role to play.
As I see it the biggest problem for new designers is that they are not given a voice that is strong enough when they leave the schools. Compare them to architects. The personality of architects shout at you even if they stand right next to you!
But I’m optimistic. I see an enormous potential for designers. Design is the only skill and artform than can transcend the limit between the physical and the immaterial. Designers just need to put words to it, communicate it to the world and institutionalize it on the schools.
All photos courtesy of Broen Design