Kristina Dam is one of Denmark’s foremost designers, renowned not just for her intuitive eye for shape, colours and space, but her deep love of art, architecture and illustration. Since she established her eponymous design studio in 2012, she’s become particularly well-known for elegant, understated and atmospheric furniture, art and homeware that sensitively incorporates all of her influences into one collection. Which is why we wanted to learn more.
To explore this Danish design phenomenon and showcase some of this winter’s key new pieces from Kristina Dam, we sought out the woman who makes it all happen. Basically, we sat down with Kristina Dam to talk design inspirations, career aspirations and the importance of having the right people around you. We certainly learned a few things…
What was your childhood dream?
I can remember always being creative. Some of my earliest memories are painting in my parents’ garden.
Who was your hero?
Ever since my first year at the Architecture School my big heroes were, and still are, Walter Gropius and Josef Albers. Since I can remember, I have always been inspired by the Bauhaus School.
What initially inspired the start of Kristina Dam? What was the vision?
Kristina Dam Studio started out with my black and white architectural illustrations. I was selling the illustrations in one of the best retailers in Copenhagen, and it went quite well, so that gave me the confidence to push into other design fields. The sculptural objects came and then the furniture. My vision is to keep on combining the inspiration I get from art with the more functional aspects of furniture. I like that my designs add a sculptural feeling to the environment you place it in, it’s something that I never want to forget.
How does your experience in graphic design and architecture resonate in your work?
I think you quite obviously see that the line from my illustrations are also the lines I am working with in my furniture and accessories. It’s the simplicity that I always aim for.
What have you learned from both of those disciplines?
From architecture I have learned to understand spaces and how to arrange a space and to understand materials. Graphic designs are another dimension entirely. From graphic design you learn that even a small line can fix a great problem. A logo can change the whole expression, and that is maybe why my furniture is so simple and at the same time so complicated to produce. My production team always make fun of me when I am sending them new drawings for new products because they say it looks so simple but it is always so complicated to produce.
What is it that drives you?
Without doubt my passion for design. I have always wanted to make things for people’s home and in the beginning, it was very important to me to make sculptures that everyone can afford and buy. Art is not only for the elite who buy at a galleries but its becoming more and more a part of the interior scene. It should be something that everyone enjoys and has a relationship with.
What are your other interests beyond the studio? How do they propel you?
My great interest is art and design, and that is what I am thinking of all the time. In particular, I love to visit galleries when I am traveling around the world. Art is just so interesting, and many artists dare to combine new shapes and materials because art does not have to have a function. It can be as simple as just being something that is interesting to look at. I like to approach a lot of my designs in the same way.
What should we all be looking out for when it comes to Kristina Dam?
In the near future, we will keep combining inspiration into our collections. The SS19 Collection will be very much be inspired by Japanese style – and we will add a new material to our collection too, but you’ll have to stay tuned for that one.
What is the hardest part designing a new collection or product?
The production part, for sure. The process of prototyping and keeping up a good production is very hard. To get the right price point at the same time as producing everything in Europe – because I want to be sure that the quality is good and our impact on the environment is minimal – is the biggest challenge that we’re faced with.
What are the three most important things you’ve learned in the journey of Kristina Dam?
Since I am a designer and architect, I didn’t know anything about running a business, so that has been a massive learning curve over the past 5 years. I have also learned to always be open minded and go with the flow as it often leads me to new interesting projects and people. The biggest thing to remember is to always have good people around you and, thankfully, I think I’ve got the best team working with me.
What do you hope to do next year that you haven’t in 2018?
I would love to do even more projects with interior designers as I see interiors as a great opportunity for developing our studio. Plus, I’d even like to create some interior projects of my own, so next year that’s the overriding vision.