MOHD interviews: Torbjørn Anderssen & Espen Voll, the “kind” innovators of Scandinavian design

23 September 2022

Anderssen e Voll

For them the home is a place to share and therefore to be designed looking for comfort and beauty

The formal influence of the Scandinavian school is only the beginning, because Torbjørn Anderssen & Espen Voll, founders of the studio that bears their name, have been able to imprint their own vision and dilute the functional austerity of Nordic design with an approach that involves the materiality, the pleasure of touch, physical and visual comfort. Carrying on, as described below, the Norwegian habit of welcoming friends into the house rather than meeting outside, and to have this ritual in mind when designing the spaces but also the furnishings. This vision explains, for example, the generosity of the upholstery, the recurring presence of wood and other warm materials, the soft and reassuring color palette. All aspects that return to their collections: from the soft Brasilia armchair for Menu to the enveloping Outline workstation for Muuto, from the graceful Vista sofa for Wendelbo to the ethereal Lantern lamps for New Works. Everything is devoted to comfort, hospitality, and a natural and timeless elegance and in this “kind” approach Anderssen & Voll shed new light on Scandinavian design.

Brasilia armchair by Menu

What are the priorities in your design approach?

We always accentuate two factors. First having a strong and fruitful dialogue with our clients. Second, we build all projects in full scale at the workshop. This is seminal to evaluate relevance, proportions, and dimensions. Small scale and 3D visuals are important but will never replace the feedback from a built full-scale model. A product needs to be placed in context of the human body and the environment to justify its value.

Brasilia armchair by Menu

What makes a happy home today?

Having small kids, we would say a stick vacuum cleaner is mighty handy when making a happy home. That aside lots of natural light is an essential quality as well as the presence of natural material like a wooden floor. A solid high quality wooden floor is maybe the most important “furniture” in the house. Also, you will never regret having a vast number of possibilities for storage. A room with a view allows your mind to wonder.

Lantern lamp by New Works

What are the strengths of the Norwegian home’s design and way of living?

Norwegians traditionally entertain guests at home and spend a lot of time in their home – the European Urban culture of meeting your friends out in the city are not that strong. There is a lot of emphasis on a Norwegian term called «kos» – which would translate to something cozy and with a certain warmth to the atmosphere. This tradition is merging with a newfound interest in more progressive international designs.

Vista sofa by Wendelbo

How do you build a relationship with the companies you work with?

We try to fully understand the companies we work with – at the same time we have an obligation towards culture and our profession to push the limits of what should be created. Working together, eating together – having fun together. We love to be out on factory trips. Ideally a new object should reflect Anderssen & Voll and our manufacturing partner equally.

Outline sofa by Muuto

How would you define your homes?

Our homes are personal of nature. A mix of ones lived life, art, furniture, artefacts from a life of travel and work. The emphasis is on products with a lifelong quality that stays relevant. We also like to focus on materiality as an equal factor to colours when building our own home.

Cover picture by Anne Bråtveit

Menu Brasilia Lounge Chair
Menu Brasilia Lounge Chair
New Works Lantern Suspension Lamp
New Works Lantern Table Lamp
Muuto Outline Highback Work
Wendelbo Vista Armchair

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