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Letter from the Editor

11th October, 2017

OH HI and welcome to my belated 2nd editor’s letter…!

I’ve recently returned from a trip to Denmark, Holland and France. It was a bit of a whirlwind, with just a few days in each city… but boy, no matter how crazy it seems (especially with a small child in tow), travel is always worth the effort!

I plan to share another post soon with a few more personal highlights (if you’re remotely interested!), but today, I want to share a few thoughts from my inspiring time in Denmark, where I attended Rising Architecture Week in Aarhus, hosted by Vola, an iconic Danish tapware brand.

Experiencing  ‘Your Panorama Rainbow’  by Studio Olafur Eliasson at ARoS Aarhus Art Museum. Selfie-central!

ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, sporting the incredible ‘Your Panorama Rainbow’ permanent exhibit on the roof, by Studio Olafur Eliasson, Berlin.

The colourful townhouses of Copenhagen.

Me on a BIKE. Should be front-page news.

Stilleben– My absolute favourite little homewares store in Copenhagen,

How good it is when you strike accommodation GOLD!? We stayed in this exquisite little family apartment in Copenhagen, discovered on family-friendly apartment rental website, Kid & Co.

The photogenic streets of Aarhus.

It’s clear almost from the moment you step off the plane why Denmark has such a strong design history. Buildings, shops and homes here all seem to have that effortlessly sleek aesthetic that we in Australia loosely refer to as ‘Scandi’ style. Personally, ‘Scandi’ feels like a somewhat hollow descriptor for what is in fact a finely tuned aesthetic with a rich and layered history – i.e, much more than just blonde timber, whitewashed walls and Hans Wegner furniture!

My trip was, in part, made possible by Vola, an iconic Danish tapware brand and family owned business, who still manufacture every component of their taps just outside of Aarhus (Denmark’s second largest city).

I spent a few days with the Vola team during my trip. Gaining an insight into their design and manufacturing process first hand, I began to identify a uniquely Danish approach to design, and to the business of ‘making stuff’ in general.

Solid brass discs at the Vola factory, soon to be formed into shower heads.

Solid brass tapware components at the Vola factory.

The Vola factory seamlessly combines traditional craftmanship with state-of-the-art technology, and robots. This man is not a robot.

Vola Academy is a new building designed for education and events – a cultural hub for the brand. The building houses an auditorium, meeting and conference rooms, and this  double-height ‘museum corridor’ with display cabinets built into the concrete walls.

Vola’s iconic HV1 tap – their very first product, which is still being manufactured almost 50 years after first being designed by Arne Jacobsen for the National Bank of Denmark in 1968!

Vola is a workplace who have been making just one bestselling tap range, designed by Arne Jacobsen, since 1968, and have no plans to create a new product line – ever. This is a company who are so intent on preserving their invaluable brand DNA, that they decline multi-million dollar contracts if the request calls for customisation outside of their existing product range, because… well, they don’t make stuff just for the sake of it.

Every staff member, from the manufacturing team to the marketing gurus, understand what makes Vola, Vola. ‘Vola is Vola’ says marketing director Birthe Tofting. ‘We try not to be anything else than we are’.

I’m always intrigued by how successful companies operate, and my trip to Vola came at an interesting time. The Design Files has grown a little this year – our team has nearly doubled in size, and truthfully, though I am relishing our new-found (wo)manpower, I’m still slightly taken aback when I walk into our office and see SIX people tapping away on their keyboards. WOAH. For me, that feels like a lot of responsibility… and having a team of ridiculously clever, endlessly inspiring, idea-generating staff in the office has highlighted to me how important it is to be clear on what it actually is that we do, and equally, what we don’t do.

For the first time, with eager new faces to initiate into the previously not-very-well-articulated  ‘ways of TDF’, I’ve realised how important it is to clearly identify our vision and our goals as a business, and to actively choose our path, rather than simply meandering along.

I can’t say I’ve penned the perfect company manifesto yet (!), but as travel tends to do, this trip has clarified my thinking, and left me itching to shake things up a bit in 2018.  TDF will be TEN years old next year, and it feels like we’re just getting started!

VOLA Academy exterior, designed by Torben Madsen of Link Arkitektur.

 

VOLA tapware in situ

Letters from Lucy