Sometimes decorating your house leads to more than just buying a few pieces of furniture. Balineum began when founder, Sarah Watson, couldn’t find shower curtains that fit her aesthetic. This month, a new studio devoted to emerging Nordic design launches after its founder faced a similar struggle. Åben, meaning “open” in Danish, is the passion project of David Harrigan, a formally trained lawyer with a deep love for Scandinavian craft and design.
After marrying photographer and stylist, Billie Scheepers, the pair set out to decorate their new (old Victorian) home in London. The Daily Telegraph featured it here if you missed it. Having spent time trolling the shops and antique markets of Stockholm and Copenhagen, Harrigan peppered the house with a mix of modern and vintage pieces, like a sleek Vitsœ shelving system and a vintage Kurt Østervig dining table. But the regions emerging designers proved elusive. Stores, he came to find, tended to stick with the icons – Wegner, Jacobsen, Poulsen.
After quizzing students at KADK The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts on what their job options were after graduation, Harrigan spent the next year digging deeper, meeting dozens of designers, and eventually taking the leap to set up Åben. Now, where British design has The New Craftsman as a platform for local makers, Åben similarly serves as a place where emerging Nordic talent can be readily found. The first collection includes pieces by students and working designers alike. There is an overarching emphasis on sustainability and all wood pieces are made using FSC-certified wood. Championing heritage, there are ceramics made in an old Gustavsberg porcelain factory. And to pay it forward, Åben is committed to a Designer in Residence program, starting with Stockholm-based Nick Ross. We too love paying it forward by highlighting other champions of craftsmanship.
If you’re in Copenhagen at the end of this month, be sure to visit the CHART Design Fair from 30 Aug – 1 Sep, where you’ll find collectible Nordic design from established contemporary and emerging designers.
Photography © Åben