"Kristina Dam is an architect, graphic designer and founder of Kristina Dam Studio, Copenhagen, Denmark. Her unique style finds a striking blend of art and interior design as portrayed through furniture, art prints, illustrations and sculptures. A powerhouse in design today, Kristina Dam shed some light on the importance of art being affordable, minimalism and her approach to design development." - Editor
What made you take your plunge from graphic design to a full time entrepreneur?
I started with illustrations and making art prints, and was actually one of the first designers out there to sell art prints. But when an increasing number of companies also started producing posters and art prints, I quickly realized that the competition here would be too intense. Therefore, I looked for inspiration in my design philosophy, which has always been to create affordable art for every man – and that is when I got the idea of designing sculptures, because it was a way to teach every man the enriching value of having art in one’s home. My first piece of furniture was actually the result of a frame that I had previously designed to hang on the wall as an art object – and although that previous design was not a success, actually utilizing it for a different purpose was how I came up with my iconic Cube Table for my first piece of furniture, which would turn out to be a big success. And from that point on I really came to the realization that furniture can have a sculptural function, which ultimately was what encouraged me to focus on sculptures and furniture and not simply graphic art prints.
Does your background in graphic design influence your work?
Definitely - all of my designs have a sculptural and graphic element. Graphic design is all about de-cluttering and emphasizing the essence of something – and that is really my inspiration for everything I do. I focus on simple line and on what the eye catches – and that is also what my designs reflect; that your eyes should be able to find peace and focus on the furniture piece as it is, and then if you go closer, you will notice a beautiful detail – a joint, an idea – something you can get really get caught up in while trying to explore.
What according to you are the current trends in modern day interior design?
Sculptural interior, for one, where sculptural pieces really add something unique to the room. Scandinavian minimalism is another trend we see, where the guiding interior principle definitely is less is more and quality over quantity when it comes to buying new interior pieces. The first movers of interior design are currently inspired by art galleries - decorating their homes using display pedestals and allowing art to have a prominent space in their decor. Finally, we are also seeing a big awareness of sustainability.
In your words , how do you describe Nordic Minimalism?
It is about simplicity and graphic lines. And a strong level of detail and craftsmanship – creating pieces with beautiful details, joints, and of the finest natural materials – such as solid materials like wood, which the classic furniture designers also worked with.
What is your process when it comes yo designing a product? What methods do you adopt?
When I design a new product, my starting point is typically functionality – meaning that I essentially try to design furniture that meet some kind of function. For example, I might be inspired to design a new dining table which serves that very specific function – and then the question becomes how do I then actually design it. So when designing a new product, my focus is typically on functionality, and then often I also have an idea of the material(s) I want to use. And then I also adopt a graphic and geometric mindset, trying to incorporate simple lines and forms into my designs.
You are a powerhouse in design today. What opportunities and challenges does your practice face in the future?
The different steps and people involved in the production of our pieces are always a challenge, and given that we have decided to keep our entire production in Europe, we are up against high costs and prices, which is definitely also a big challenge. Ultimately, however, we are insistent on designing beautiful pieces from the highest quality, for example using solid oak over wood veneer – and so that is not something we are willing to compromise on, despite the costs.
Why such a strong affinity towards the monochrome pallet?
I want more furniture to be remembered for their design and not their color - i.e. for the design to stand out, and not some color that is trending at the moment. Essentially, my goal is to make timeless and sustainable pieces – just like the old Danish design classics - that you can use and love for many years to come.
Your brand has grown over the years branching into furniture , art , lighting and sculptures. What’s next?
We are at a point in time where we have really created a foundation for the direction that we wish to go in in the future. This e.g. means continuing to develop new sculptures, and expanding more and more into furniture. We have also been successful in selling products to contract market, and think it is a really interesting possibility to do more business with that market because we are in a setup where we can adjust our production according to that. Moreover, I hope to do more big interior projects where we have the opportunity to inject our distinct Kristina Dam DNA into it.
What would your advice be for young designers and entrepreneurs out there?
First of all, it is absolutely essential to have an internal drive and a high work ethic, because if you do not, you will not go anywhere. You have to have that hunger, combined with a high sense of curiosity and willingness to continually push your own limits for what you can achieve. Second, I would advise young designers to start out slowly and really take everything step-by-step. Third, I cannot underestimate the importance of finding the right collaborators – people you can trust and who you know are doing their all to turn your vision into reality.
A: Kristina Dam