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Knut Bendik Humlevik (*1984 in Bergen, Norway) and Rune Krøjgaard (*1980 in Herning, Denmark) are responsible for NORR11’s entire product line. They jointly head the design team in Copenhagen and have been part of the company from the start. In an interview with Tong-Jin Smith, a freelance journalist based in Berlin, they talk about their work.

 
       Knut Bendik Humlevik  

 

     Knut Bendik Humlevik
 

       Rune Krøjgaard   

 

     Rune Krøjgaard 
 

 

Where do your greatest influences come from? What inspires you in your work?
Rune Krøjgaard: 
Both present and previous designers throughout the world influence me, but of course my roots are strongly based in Danish design. I’m schooled in seeing and feeling their design, so for me it is easy to embrace. But other fields of design also inspire me like heavy industries, especially construction design. Also, I grew up on a farm, where farm equipment has beautiful shapes and functions, which can be converted or adapted into home accessories. In doing that, designing becomes very interesting.

Knut Bendik Humlevik:
Architecture - I come from an architectural education. It's a field that has taught me a lot about how to attack and work with a concept. One cannot deny that a lot of inspiration comes from the furniture “heroes” of the past centuries, also how their influence is applied in works of other designers in our time. It’s surprising where I find inspiration - fashion, the industry as well as small things with characteristic expressions.

Combining shapes and materials is an integral part of your work as a designer. Which materials do you prefer? Why do they suite your designs best?
Rune Krøjgaard: 
I could narrow it down to wood. But for me it depends more on the design, the shape and feeling. I ask myself: What kind of material is suitable for making exactly this object? But really, wood is the material I prefer, based on the living ability, the way of working with wood, and the smell. Love the smell.

How do you characterize your design work? 
Knut Bendik Humlevik:
The pure use of shape – it’s important for me that the user “sees” the product, feels the intention. One does not necessarily have to understand every line and movement in the design, but an understanding of the product, arousing a sense of clarity is important. I strive to express this in my work, together with the honest use of material reflected in the furniture.

Who do you design for? 
Rune Krøjgaard: 
I would love to say for everybody, but to be honest I don’t think very short and very tall people like the comfort of all our furniture. It’s based on the average sizes of the human body, and at the moment we don’t do niche projects, even though it would be very interesting.  

How important is it for you to be a part of the production process? 
Knut Bendik Humlevik:
Important - I think it’s a necessary part of the understanding of industrial design. It has taught me a lot, the strengths and weaknesses of various materials. In general, I am aware of how the industry that provides us works in different parts of the world.

What role does Asian furniture manufacturing play in your work? 
Rune Krøjgaard: 
Asian manufacturing plays a major role in our and my work, because our main production is located in Asia. Making furniture and other home accessories doesn’t come without obstacles and basically it’s all to do with communication and culture. We have different understandings of objects. It is the most frustrating, time consuming and yet fun part in the process of creating a new design; generally speaking the design rises from the ashes. It’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions. In a way you have to be a great storyteller. Tell your story with charisma and enthusiasm, then others will spread your story and more will understand. The same thing goes for creating a design. If you can’t explain your design to the people who are going to make it, then the design won’t be realized.

NORR11 prides itself on having a pure style and being devoted to functionality. How do you achieve that without being boring?
Knut Bendik Humlevik:
What is the definition of boring - I think it's important not to be afraid of being boring, but believe that the honesty of the style is pure. For me functionality is a key factor, and can never be ignored, so if I can achieve pure style and functionality in a product, I'm glad.

Rune Krøjgaard: 
Somebody will always think your work is boring or unpleasing. In other words: it comes down to taste. What is and what isn’t right or wrong, this is hard to argue. However I believe, if you understand the basic development of furniture, then you have some strong indicators for making pure and functional furniture, which I think we do. It’s hard to rewrite the history of a chair, but making light is another case. I believe, we are standing on the doorstep of experience magical new lamps and light. Should you put the two descriptions on scale, then pure style is heavier then functionality, but we attempt to balance the two.

Where do you see Norr11 in 5 years?
Knut Bendik Humlevik:
Playing a central role in the European furniture market. I hope that Norr11 will be at a stage, where we can offer the market a challenge, and be a brand that provides the market with new, young designers - still as affordable good design.

www.norr11.com