Frederik Gustav live in Copenhagen where they are classmates at KADK, currently studying for their Masters in Spatial Design. They live within walking distance of the school and it is the centre around which they revolve.
If forced to contain Frederik & Gustav in one word, that word would be energy. When these “brothers in design” talk about their work, they simply vibrate with it. They first worked together on a chair project in 2016. Their process always starts with conversation: “We talk design a lot. We want to be able to speak the design to each other without the distraction of pen and paper.”
They also have a particularly Danish test for any concept. It has to be simple enough to “piss it in the snow.”
The designers are both children of architects and the discipline is a constant in their work, but their focus is on the small-scale: “It’s very satisfying working with sizes and materials you can put your body into. With furniture, there’s something about how you place your body in it that is very intense.”
They admit to continually challenging the “perception of the design discipline”, seeing how far they can push their combination of art and furniture. They are reluctant to separate furniture-making, art and architecture into separate entities, intent on blurring the lines between them.
The Buk table that features on ÅBEN is based on a workshop sawhorse and is an introduction to how Frederik Gustav play with perceptions of the everyday: “We use the sawhorse as a tool for making furniture, we then thought it would be interesting to take something out of the workshop and put it in the home.”
Read about Frederik Gustav's process in Issue #001 of the Åben Journal
Discover and Purchase Frederik Gustav's products in the Åben Shop
“When we think design, we remove all that is not essential, then the quality really appears. It’s very pure, very honest, very logical.”
The table retains the identity of the sawhorse and the Buk is what the designers’ term ‘knock-down’ furniture. It is flat-packed then re- assembled:
“We’ve taken the customer into the project, when you construct the table yourself, you can feel how the elements relate and function together. The customer is part of the process.” It is the antithesis of typically brittle, mass-produced, flat-pack furniture. With the Buk, Frederik Gustav’s aim is to share the joy of joining raw, beautiful materials together.
Making design simple is a complicated matter. Stripping back can be a painstaking process: “The ideas come extremely fast, but the execution of the idea takes a long time.” Fortunately Frederik & Gustav have an impressive work ethic that typically sees them working 16-hour days.
They speak of an “ideas shelf” in their heads and each resulting piece has to tell a story that can be easily read. Frederik Gustav embody a hands-on approach to design and their knowledge and reverence for materials is evident from their work, when they describe working with materials it is a two-way street: “we touch it as it touches us.”
Frederik Gustav’s pursuit of honesty reflects ÅBEN’s founding objective of transparency of process. “We’re not hiding anything, we want everything to be exposed, honesty in everything we do”
“When you work with what people find very ordinary, then make one simple adjustment, one tweak or twist, suddenly your whole perception of normal changes and you are faced with something quite different.”