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AZURE - June 2019 - The Workspace Issue - Cover
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June 2019

#272
June 2019

Azure goes to work! Join us for an insider look at some of the world’s best designed workspaces, from multifunctional facilities to super-efficient studios.

Soothing pastel shades, fuzzy textures and plenty of biophilic elements such as hanging plants are hallmarks of the Familien Kvistad’s growing portfolio of workplace projects – a deliberate antidote to sleek corporate design. In the Oslo headquarters of Bakken & Baeck, a fast-growing digital design agency, pale blue walls and whimsical handmade wall rugs set the tone, while the recently completed B & B satellite in Amsterdam boasts “creamy yellow” rooms, a soft pink chill zone and a blazing neon sign overlooking the dining area.

For Bjarne Flur Kvistad, the art director, illustrator and graphic designer who operates Kvistad with his wife Miriam, his sister Astrid and Astrid’s husband Ziemowit Skoczynski, this “refined handcrafted” aesthetic reflects their Scandinavian roots, but it isn’t exactly hygge, the trendy Danish concept of coziness. Kvistad’s work also reflects the unusual breadth of skills – from colour theory to machine knitting – that its members bring together under one roof. Azure recently spoke to Bjarne Kvistad from his clan’s home base in Hurdal, Norway, about 80 kilometres north of Oslo.

PHOTO: Tekla Evelina Severin

How and when did you all decide to work together?

BFK

We decided when our families [both couples have young children] moved to the same neighbourhood a few years ago. Our projects are of different scopes, from art and product design to interiors for homes and companies. Our studio is located in an old classroom, where we have a sewing area, an atelier, a photo studio and a workshop for creating and reviving furniture and objects. Our goal is to amalgamate all of the disciplines we have to offer, ensuring that everything we make has a useful functionality and good craftsmanship.

PHOTO: Tekla Evelina Severin

Can you describe your studio’s aesthetic? The work I’ve seen is warm, colourful and idiosyncratic, with a refined yet handcrafted look. How would you characterize it?

BFK

I think all of those characterizations are apt. We definitely put an emphasis on colour play. Mastering colour has turned into a goal and we want it to be a defining characteristic of our work. A refined handcrafted look relates, I would assume, to our Scandinavian heritage. But we like to have a funny or strange element in our projects as well – and this has been expressed so far through our hand-tufted rugs.

PHOTO: Tekla Evelina Severin

Does your aesthetic have anything to do with hygge?

BFK

When it comes to the mainstream Scandinavian aesthetic, I think that we might be somewhat off as a firm – probably more relatable to other, more vibrant countries [than to those that espouse hygge]. Making workplaces homier, however, is definitely a goal. A sense of community within companies is good for business.

Mastering colour has turned into a goal and we want it to be a defining characteristic of our work
Bjarne Kvistad
PHOTO: Tekla Evelina Severin

Can you tell me who in your studio does what exactly?

BFK

Everyone in the Kvistad family has had experience in different design fields – interior, fashion, graphic, digital – as well as illustration, machine knitting and carpentry. My sister Astrid and her husband Ziemowit are the driving forces of the studio. Astrid was trained as a fashion designer with knitting as a speciality; she currently serves as a project manager and sewing expert. Ziemowit is an expert tufter. My wife Miriam, who was educated in art direction and photography, handles colour planning with Astrid and is our in-house photographer. And I’m an llustrator and graphic designer as well as a digital designer.

How do you approach a new project, especially an office?

BFK

The first part of most projects is about creating an aesthetic concept that we can use as a thread throughout. From this we create a visual language to base our future decisions on, including choices about furniture, colour and materials. For Bakken & Baeck [in Oslo], we developed the concept of a Scandinavian spaceship, a union of space age, futurist and Scandinavian lines. The company was growing fast and it needed space to accommodate future workers. It decided to expand to the floor below and this was where we came in. After we had established the concept of a spaceship, it became the through line and made it easier to validate ideas.

PHOTO: Lasse Fløde
PHOTO: Lasse Fløde

How did designing Bakken & Baeck’s Amsterdam office differ?

BFK

From concept to completion, Amsterdam involved a way more structured process. The goals were quite similar [to those in Norway], but it was important for us to create an aesthetic link to Oslo while also giving the new office its own character.

PHOTO: Lasse Fløde

Bakken & Baeck is a relatively small and progressive company. How would you approach a design for a larger corporate client?

BFK

It’s hard to answer this. Larger clients have a higher degree of design standardization, which is really the opposite of where we want to be.

PHOTO: Lasse Fløde
A Conversation with Norwegian Trend-Setter Bjarne Flur Kvistad

Composed of two siblings and their respective spouses, Norwegian design studio Kvistad is bringing authentic and unabashed hominess to European workplaces. Its goal as a family firm is to help people perform their jobs better through greater degrees of comfort. Just don’t call what they’re doing hygge

AZURE is an independent magazine working to bring you the best in design, architecture and interiors. We rely on advertising revenue to support the creative content on our site. Please consider whitelisting our site in your settings, or pausing your adblocker while stopping by.