Interview with Anne Qvist - Aarhus-based architect

"I think that design should be moving all the time - in a sense where it understands time. I don't see design as timeless. I see design as timefull - reflecting our lives today."

Danish design

"I don't think the term 'Danish design' is ridiculous - I think it's absolutely amazing that such a small culture can establish a concept acknowledged worldwide.  There is no doubt that the classic furniture of the 'golden years' of Danish design is unique. Right now there's a tendency to misuse the term a little bit - everything is Danish and or Nordic design. And I don't think that it's a quality in itself - a good design has qualities such as innovative shaping, qualitative manufacturing and an emotional magic that hits you when you interact with the design. This ability is not restricted to Denmark only anymore. 

Two of my own eureka moments in this regard come from my time living in the US for a year as a young student and when working in China as an architect and designer. Seeing the phrase DANISH MODERN written in big letters in a store in Minneapolis and experiencing the furniture in obvious contrast with the cluttered style of American interior design was an eye opener. Working with architecture and design in China gave me a different view of what it is we do when working with design in relation to quality, detail and care."

The city of Aarhus

"I think it takes a range of different components before a so-called 'hub' can arise and create the right conditions for something magical to happen. I think it's important to have great educational institutions, great craftsmanship, new technology, people with the courage to invest, craziness and openness to create hubs. Take a look at the tech industry in California - awesome universities with students coming from all around the world, private and public investors in abundance and a great deal of craziness and confidence.

It's exciting to be a designer based in the city of Aarhus. I studied at the Aarhus School of Architecture and had an internship at SHL Architects (called Schmidt, Hammer & Lassen at the time) on the other side of the street. When I graduated they offered me a job - a very open and challenging job - and it went something like "come by the office Monday morning and we'll figure out what you can do for us" (this is literally what they said). Working there had a lot of the essential components for developing hubs. Today, with my own small business, it's a joy witnessing the great development in small businesses in cooperation with the educational institutions of the city."

A sense of scale

"Scale is a very important factor for me when working with design. The desk lamp AQ01 for Lightyears Fritz Hansen is a product design that gets close up with the consumers hands and eyes. Even the smallest details have to be refined - tiny radii and detailed transitions between the different moving parts. When designing a product made to be viewed from a distance - a street lamp for example - you can get away with visible welds, as they will never be visible to people on the street. 

I think Danish Design is a huge inspiration for designers all over the world. Some years ago I was visiting with Paul Smith in his design office in London and he said that the success of Danish Design has inhibited Danish designers for a long time - we sort of got stuck with designing cylindrical coffee pitchers. This is quite inspiring to me because I do think that design should be moving all the time - in a sense where it understands time. I don't see design as timeless I see design as timefull - reflecting our lives today."