You founded OeO Studio more than a decade ago. What are the qualities you find in each other?
‘Anne-Marie and I complement each other perfectly. We are almost like each other’s opposites. Like black and white, yin and yang. Anne-Marie has strong competences where I am weak, and vice versa. Together, we make a strong team. Despite our differences, we share the same values and are completely like-minded.’
Does the name OeO have a special meaning for you?
‘OeO is phonetic, a sound. It doesn’t mean anything specific, but you can say it in any language and pronounce it in different ways. We also like the fact that it’s short and has a graphic look.’
What is your vision for OeO Studio?
‘If not to actually change the world, we would like to make it a nicer place to live. We are also strong believers in creating meaningful and relevant solutions. Solutions with a reason for being.’
What part of the design process do you find most rewarding?
‘The whole process is rewarding, in different ways. There’s great satisfaction in cracking the nut in the early stages. Then there are the learnings you get on the way towards the goal and ultimately, the end, where everything’s realised and comes to fruition – that is a moment of joy, pride and happiness! But often, it’s followed by an empty feeling. We have given so much of ourselves, and from one moment to the next, it’s all over, and then you start something new.’
What do material, structure, colour and form mean to you?
‘It means everything, and we don’t like to compromise on any of it.’
Inspiration is a very personal thing. Where do you find yours?
‘We find inspiration in everything, from the smallest things to large-scale architecture; in nature, poetry, arts, food, travelling, people etc. As Paul Smith once said, “You can find inspiration in everything – and if you can’t, look again.” He even wrote a book with this title, and he is absolutely right. Inspiration comes from curiosity and play.’
Your work is naturally influenced by your close connections with Japan. Where do you see this influence expressed most prominently?
‘We have been going to Japan professionally for almost ten years, but the fascination with Japan has always been there, for both of us, ever since childhood. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what the influence has been. We think perhaps it lies in our coherent and holistic approach. We share the respect, the dignity, the beauty, the rituals, the aesthetics etc. When we design, we don’t think, “Let’s make it Japanese.” It just comes naturally, from within.’
What do Japanese and Danish design traditions bring to each other – and where are the biggest differences?
‘Good question! We think that Danes specifically could learn about respect and gratitude from Japan as well as the deeper meaning behind things and the more emotional layers. As for Japan, we think what Danes can bring to the table is a more open-minded and entrepreneurial approach to tradition and design.’
You work closely with a very diverse selection of companies – from Leica Camera Japan and Sony to family-owned companies like Brdr. Krüger and Dinesen to Kadeau. Is there a common denominator in the way you approach a design task?
‘The way we work, no matter the client – big or small, crafts or corporate – the process is the same. We ask ourselves the same questions, and it’s all a matter of natural evolution and reason for being.’
Is there a product, or more products, that you dream of designing in your own way?
‘Oh yes, there is. We dream – and have been dreaming for a long time – of designing a hotel from A to Z. A fully embracing experience from service to offerings to redefining the notion of luxury to interiors and bespoke design solutions. In fact, this has been a dream of ours for almost ten years. They say patience is the companion of wisdom. So perhaps, some day.’