Herman Studio: “We aim to balance the contrast between the elegant and the powerful”

Helle Herman Mortensen and Jonas Herman Pedersen work closely together with both their design agency Herman Studio and the Form & Refine brand. In an interview with Design Stories, the designer couple sheds light on their creative process and what makes their collaboration work so well.

Herman Studio
In addition to their design agency Herman Studio, Helle and Jonas work with the Form & Refine brand that they founded in 2018 together with Lasse Lund Lauridsen.

Hi, Helle and Jonas! How are you?
“Good thank you! Enjoying the light; the sun and brighter times.”

We really admire your ability to create furniture that is robust yet somehow airy and graceful at the same time. We want to know, how do you do it!
“Thanks! We aim to balance the contrast between the elegant and the powerful, and it might also reflect our synergy between the masculine and the feminine expression that we each represent.

Construction is an important element in our design process. We believe that quality is a great balance between aesthetics and the durable design, durability both in the construction and in the solid material that will patinate over time.

Creating products with respect for the materials and details requires care and patience. In a world where keeping momentum and speed are key, we greatly appreciate slowing down the pace and pay attention to the details whenever possible.”

Form & Refine Angle stool
Naturally, the designer couple has created a lot of products for Form & Refine. The foldable Angle stool also works as a nightstand.
Form & Refine Leaf shelf
Form & Refine's Leaf shelf was designed by Finnish Jonas Lutz. It is crafted from leftover wood from a local wood joinery.
Form & Refine Blueprint chair
Many of Herman Studio's designs have a strong presence that is light at the same time. Pictured are the Angle stool, Trefoil table and Blueprint chair.

One of the products that are simultaneously elegant and robust is the Blueprint chair that launched earlier this year. Could you tell us the story of the piece?
“Our Blueprint chair is no exception when it comes to refining and paying attention to details. Like all our designs, the creative process started with a functional starting point: we aimed for a stackable and comfortable wooden chair that doesn’t require an upholstered seat or back. The backrest had to be at an angle that works for people of all shapes and sizes. That took many attempts and countless tests.

“Our furniture has to have durability in its basic DNA.”

Aesthetically we wanted to design a simple but sculptural chair, where the details elevate the high quality. For example, there are no visible screws to break up the aesthetic or scratch the chairs when they are stacked.

These small details and care about comfort are examples of how important it is to cover every angle and aspect of a product and the challenges and possibilities they present. It’s not like there aren’t enough chairs in the world already. So, the furniture we create has to have durability in its basic DNA.”

Herman Studio
In their design work, Helle and Jonas divide the tasks based on each of their strengths.
Herman Studio
Sketches and mock-ups are an important part of the duo's design process. Therefore, they have their own workshop attached to their home.

You work as a duo; what is your design process like?
“It is a constant interplay throughout the process, but with a different focus – we have very different competencies within the field. We support each other and cooperate on the tasks, but our roles are also very clear and we have great respect for each other. I think that is one of our success criteria for working so close together and being a couple at the same time.

The creative process often begins with a functional and constructional starting point. We form these ideas together, then Jonas takes over the process with many sketches and mock-ups. Based on them, we evaluate the ideas together and take the next step with prototypes, 3D sketching, and 3D prints. For the final touch, like finish, colors, and presentation, Helle takes over the main role.”

Form & Refine Blueprint chair
Wood is the Danish designers' favorite material. Their love for it shows both in their work and their own home. Gathered around the Damsbo dining table are the Blueprint chairs.
Form & Refine Aymara cushion
In addition to furniture, Form & Refine manufactures home accessories like cushions. The Aymara cushions, designed by Herman Studio, are woven in Bolivia from alpaca wool.
Form & Refine Alcoa pitcher
Form & Refine's philosophy focuses on the idea that the best manufacturing skills for each material are found from the country of its origin. The Alcoa pitcher is named after the Alcobaça area in Portugal, where the brand's ceramics are crafted.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
“We are proud to build upon the Nordic design traditions and we strive to honor and acknowledge those who came before us. Especially Børge Mogensen is one of our favorite Danish furniture designers. What we think made him very special was his ability to make functional and beautiful furniture with a price point that made them available for everyone.

Furthermore, the French designer Jean Prouvé inspires us. The construction is a significant element in his design, it is often a construction detail that is highlighted and becomes the mainstay in his design.”

Form & Refine A Line shoe rack
Form & Refine's A Line collection pays respect to Danish woodworking traditions with its solid wood furniture like the oak wood shoe rack.
Form & Refine Angle hook
The Angle hooks give the perfect finishing touch for the bathroom. The hooks double as knobs for bathroom drawers.
Form & Refine Blueprint chair
The designers' own home has a bright yet calm color palette that complements the wood tones. Helle and Jonas wanted their home to have as little white as possible.

How do you decorate your own home?
“We moved into our wooden house a year ago. A house that we drew ourselves. Like our approach to design, we also love wood in architecture – our most favorite material. It is organic; it simply sprouts from the soil and supplies us with clean air during its growth. Therefore, it was clear to us that it should be a wooden house.

The interior is light, with calm and bright colors, to support our wooden furniture. The house and interior style is very Scandinavian and might reflect very well our design universe.”

See also:

Products designed by Herman Studio >
Products by Form & Refine >

Text: Emmi Ratilainen Images: Form & Refine

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