When one meets young and successful people directing their own office, it is unavoidable not to wonder, when is the right timing. How many years of employment are required until one can start his own firm? The Danish architect Sigurd Larsen opened his own practice in less than 5 years after his studies.
During my last trip in Berlin I met Gabriel Tamez, a very talented fellow architect, photographer and a contributor editor of mb! magazine. In my search for unique places in the city, Gabriel suggested a store called Voo. After visiting it and whilst having our coffee there, amazed by the store and its overall design, the beautiful design of our table captured my attention. This was my first contact with the unique designs of Sigurd Larsen. Fine lines and attention to detail that makes even the most rough material, reach a state of elegance, while preserving some kind of an underground glory.
Space Under visited Sigurd Larsen Studio in Berlin and had the chance to talk with Larsen about his vision, his motives, his future plans and of course got to see more of his work.
When one meets such young and successful people, it is unavoidable not to wonder, when is the right timing. How many years of employment are required until one can start his own firm? The Danish architect Sigurd Larsen opened his own practice in less than 5 years after his studies.
“ I studied architecture in Copenhagen and graduated about five years ago. I moved to Berlin immediately after this. At first, I worked for a practice, where I was designing public spaces. Sometime after that I got the first commission to design my own project, so I quickly quit my job to do that and then one thing happened after the other.”
During his studies Sigurd Larsen was employed at OMA-Rem Koolhaas in New York, MVRDV in Rotterdam and Cobe Architects in Copenhagen. When he moved to Berlin he worked for Topotek1, and in 2009 he opens his office in Berlin.
left: 'Shrine' furniture, right:Sigurd Larsen sitting on his furniture | image courtesy: Sigurd Larsen
The Danish architect works on architectural and industrial projects at the same time. The variety of scales that he constantly bounces between, is what motivates him the most. Sigurd Larsen answers to the challenges of his purely design projects using his architectural background. The common base in his multi-scale designs are materials: he designs tables and chairs with concrete, applying on them similar properties with that of a facade, such as preserving their color, or having the ability to tolerate extremely low temperatures. Even his smallest scale projects are fabricated by materials coming from architecture such as concrete, wood, steel and so on.
Another unique aspect of his designs, also having its roots in architecture, is the concept. Furniture designs seem to have a lot to share with architectural scaled models, because here again we see the effort of the designer to organize space and bring different functions together. In this case the furniture piece becomes a system of activities. Some of his furniture designs can be also understood as domestic function nodes of minimum spatial occupation.
Apart from the designs and ideas that foster in his own studio, Sigurd Larsen collaborates with other offices as well. One of these collaborations gave them the first prize in the competition for the Dance Theatre in Bordeaux. A 1500 sq.m. project, making it the biggest one that he has worked on so far. When we met him in Berlin, he had just finished the design of a house in Denmark and was preparing to launch a new series of furniture for an exhibition in September 2013.
The office works in a dynamic way, consisting of both interns and employees, while several external collaborations with different experts take place when a project requires it. Sigurd believes in expertise and some of his main collaborators are landscape architects, engineers and carpenters. “I design the idea and the concept, as well as the atmosphere of how everything works with the materials, but there are many details that my carpenters will give a lot of input to, because that’s their profession.”
'concrete table' - image courtesy Sigurd Larsen
It has been almost 5 years since Larsen started his firm and the office is now experiencing further growth, which led to an office space change. Unfortunately, we did not have the chance to visit his new office since it was not completed by then, but we did get an important amount of information from his old studio, located in Kreuzberg. The studio was hidden in one of these typical and beautiful Berlin courtyards, next to a creative atelier of young fashion designers. It was quiet, with big windows, a terrace and a lot of natural light, that is, all the necessary ingredients for inspirational and creative work.