Professional • Insight In Good Company: Thomas Pedersen
The founder of Denmark-based Spark design studio discusses his fi rst American collaboration and the wellbeing of our planet
When was the business founded, and why? I started Spark in 2003, right after graduating from Aarhus School of Architecture with Stingray as my fi nal project. I had a few more projects that I really wanted to follow through, so it only made sense to be self-employed from the beginning.
How many staff?
We are two people at the studio – myself and my highly talented assistant designer Lukas.
Where is it based? The studio is located in the city center of Aarhus, Denmark in an old chocolate factory fi lled with other creatives and quirky businesses.
Industry insight: Reuse and recycle at CDW by Jo Weaden
Installations can be an unsustainable output of design if created for a single show and then discarded. This year, Clerkenwell Design Week has commissioned a number of installations that not only address material sustainability but also embody environmental and social messages and are designed for a future beyond the three-day show.
FOR ITS 10TH ANNIVERSARY, from 21 - 23 May, CDW will be presenting a number of installations around the creative area. Located in Brewhouse Yard, the installation titled ‘BottleHouse’, designed by architectural and design consultancy Small with support from WSP Design Studio, addresses plastic pollution and homelessness. Community project Scale Rule returns to the exhibition under St. John’s Gate to reveal a pavilion combining recycled materials with promoting diversity and public engagement in the built environment.
“We hope to raise awareness about humanity’s use and addiction
to single use plastic,” says Ricky Sandhu, founder of Small. “At the same time, we can see a desperate need for housing and in particular temporary housing in disaster stricken areas – or, in fact, in our urban centres.” The BottleHouse installation addresses the increasing issue of plastic pollution and combines it with a social enterprise to provide shelter and awareness. The bottles and caps used within the structure are collected from beaches then processed, “transforming plastic bottles into bricks and plastic bottle tops into bolts to provide water-tight and thermally comfortable temporary 100% recycled beacons”. Describing the future of the structures, Sandhu says: “Our modular design will be disassembled panel by panel and relocated to form part of the London Festival of Architecture during June. Ultimately, we hope to create a circular economy whereby communities around the world are encouraged to gather/collect plastic bottles and bring them to our hubs where we will sort, store, modify and bag into packs for immediate use whenever and wherever they are needed.” Scale Rule is returning to CDW for its fourth year, showcasing a structure that celebrates Clerkenwell’s rich history and modern design culture, designed by a winning GCSE student from London. The pavilion is constructed using FSC wood and recycled fabrics using “donated materials and out-of-season fabrics from the local design practices around Clerkenwell to add a splash of colour and further strengthen the link between the pavilion and the design heritage of the area,” says Andy McFadden, team member of Scale Rule.
Scale Rule has already secured another home for the structure,
as McFadden explains, “After CDW the pavilion will be taken down and later remounted for the 100% Design trade show in September. We want the pavilion to be transportable, but also retain that connection to Clerkenwell regardless of its location.”
What is your latest signifi cant achievement? We launched FALK with Danish company Houe at IMM Cologne this January. FALK is the fi rst chair ever made from recycled Danish household plastic waste and our fi rst contribution to shift the public’s attitude towards used plastic, from regarding it as waste to seeing it as a valuable resource. FALK is really a signifi cant milestone for me on many levels.
What is your best selling product? The Deli Chair for Skandiform, which also received the Red Dot ‘best of the best’ award in 2014. It beautifully merges form and function as a stackable chair with is distinct organic curves and great comfort. It really encapsulates what we do best at Spark.
I’ve just discovered…
During the development of FALK we discovered a lot of interesting people, all with one thing in common: an interest in the wellbeing of our planet and its resources and how to make viable solutions for the future. The environment has always been a great factor when making decisions. Meeting these likeminded people spending large parts of their lives turning waste to resource was an amazing discovery.
Who inspires me…
Ray and Charles Eames have always been a big part of my approach to designing furniture. I usually describe my designs as functional and organic because I have the human body in mind throughout the process. When you do that, things seem to end up with an overall organic expression.
I’ve always been a fan of…
I’m a fan of my job and what I do. I love absolutely everything about it – the exhibitions and fairs, the coffee and music at the studio and the possibility to shape the world we live in.
My highlight of the last 12 months…
The last 12 months have been wild! But the launch of Pedersen Chair and the interest from Bernhardt Design and the American market has been one of the highlights in my entire career. Not only is it my fi rst product for the US market, but also my fi rst time visiting America.
My next design trip is to… The fi rst half of the year is always packed with exhibitions and fairs. We showcased eight Stingrays
decorated by eight international street artists at the FORMLAND fair in Herning, Denmark.
It’s always been a dream of mine to see artists express
themselves on the great canvas that Stingray is. Then Stockholm
Furniture Fair and Salone del Mobile in Milan, two of my personal favorites.
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