Frederik Werner is a rising star in the world of Furniture Design. He graduated with both Bachelor and Masters Degrees from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – School of Design / Department of Furniture and Spatial Design in 2013. In the last few years Frederik has done an internship at Norm Architects, designed several pieces of furniture and products for the home, participated in Furniture Fairs and Exhibitions, and been nominated for, and won awards. Get to know him a little better in this interview, he is definitely one to watch!
When did you realize you wanted to be a furniture designer?
I have always been drawing, building and putting stuff together when I was younger, but at the time I didn’t know I wanted to be a designer. Somehow my interest developed and now it is a part of my everyday life. An extension of my hobby.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from all over the place. I haven’t got the most romantic approach to the design process, but I try to think about the products in a more logical way. Often I combine furniture, products, details and concepts to find a new approach to a given task. If something works, no matter if it is a function or a good looking detail, I will try to find the essence of it, find out what caught my attention and work with it.
Your designs have the clean lines, minimalist style and functionality that Danish Design is so well known for. Do you have a favourite among the great mid century Danish designers?
My favourite designer, whether it be Danish or International, is always changing depending on the projects I am working on. If I come across a designer whose design matches my current concept, he or she suddenly becomes my favourite…for the time being.
How did you get your inspiration for the Ronin chair?
Ronin chair was actually a school project done at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts –School of Design. It was my first piece of furniture to be displayed in Milan for the Fuori Salone.The overall concept was to find inspiration in traditional Scandinavian stick furniture, but with a different approach. With the wide backrest, the idea was to give the chair a Japanese look and create a product with a more expressive look.
Having only graduated in 2013, you have already seen 10 of your designs come to fruition, have you set any goals for yourself for the next few years?
Hopefully my current partnership with NORM. Architects will develop. NORM have opened a lot of doors for me and we work well together. I am also looking forward to gaining a greater insight in the international market, making new contacts and getting the opportunity to work with different areas within the world of design. I am always up for new challenges and open to new projects.
Your new product will be unveiled at Milan Design Week next month, how long have you been working on this?
Yes it will! And I am looking forward to it very much. I have been working on the project for almost two years. The overall design hasn’t changed dramatically, but a lot of the time has actually been spent on finding the right company and going through the product development. I hope to be able to show you the final product soon and I think that you will recognize it!
How is it like to be a designer in Denmark today, do you find the competition very tough with such a rich successful history of Furniture Design?
I guess our history means that Denmark is very well known when it comes to furniture design and that is probably a good thing. At the same time it can be a bit problematic, since some people expect you to design furniture with a certain “Danish look”. One way of dealing with the expectations of a “Danish look”, could be to incorporate a more international approach at the Danish design schools. This could help ensuring a larger degree of diversity in the designs. It is important that we don’t get stuck in our design tradition and that our design companies dare to invest in up and coming designers. As for the competition…well we are a small country. Only a handful of people graduate with a degree in furniture design each year. So we almost all know each in one way or another. This can create some friction, but it can also create some very strong bonds and serve as the foundation of good partnerships. I think it is important to be open about your projects and designs. We have to realize that a strong network is a big part of this line of work and something you have to develop constantly.
What are you working on at the moment, is there anyone you are collaborating with?
At the moment I am working as a furniture designer for the Copenhagen based design studio NORM. Architects. It is interesting to be a part of a studio that covers a wide range of design products such as furniture, architectural projects, photography and much more. Alongside my projects with NORM, I have been fortunate enough to get a freelance position at Georg Jensen, assisting the design manager in their Living department. I have worked with Georg Jensen for almost six months now. They work with designers from all over the world and I would be lying if I said that it isn’t fun to follow the processes in such a big design company.