Scandinavian design has been on the rise in Asian countries for many years now. Design Stories set on a quest to find out why. We had the honor to chat with Asian creatives who shared with us their favorite pieces of Nordic design. In this story, we meet architectural designer Laura Phay.
LAURA PHAY is an architectural designer based in Singapore. Together with her husband, she has co-founded three local cafés and designed the interiors for all of them. Laura's pick for her favorite Nordic design piece is Louis Poulsen's AJ floor lamp, designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1957.
Hi Laura! Can you share with us how you were first introduced to Arne Jacobsen's designs?
“It was back at university in Sydney while studying Modernism. I have been a devotee since, from his lighting collaboration with Louis Poulsen to his sanitary fixtures for Vola. Jacobsen is the bedrock of Danish design and his works are relevant to this day.”
What are some personal philosophies as an architectural designer that steered you to purchase the lamp?
“I love mid-century modern, simple lines and design that can stand the test of time. The AJ lamp was designed in 1957 and yet still looks contemporary. Many floor lamps don’t stay perfectly vertical after some time due to gravitational pull. This lamp intentionally stands tilted forward at an angle, eradicating this issue.”
To what kind of setting would you advise placing the AJ floor lamp?
“The trick is not to overthink. The AJ lamp can hold its own against a mishmash of styles, from minimal and utilitarian to Shaker style. Whether it’s set in the nursery, next to a chaise lounge or bedside, it is hardly ever out of place.”
What would be the design piece that you would recommend for others to buy as their very first Nordic product?
“Alvar Aalto’s pieces would make a good introductory investment. Particularly the Tea trolley 901 or the Stool 60 with a linoleum top.”
Lastly, can you describe what Nordic design means to you as an Asian designer?
“It's timeless, understated and versatile. There is value in investing in original Nordic design, because when you buy better quality, you spend less in the long run. The products have longevity in both style and use, lasting for decades to be passed on to the next generation. If you use them with care, they can develop a patina that only gets more charming with age. Being able to appreciate the designer behind the product further ensures no buyer’s remorse!”
Text: Melissa Tsang Images: Khoo Guo Jie