OUR DESIGN STUDIO
At ferm LIVING, we have the relatively unique pleasure of having our own design studio. A team of different personalities who, together, produce the vast majority of our designs.
The team describe themselves as a mini community within ferm LIVING. “We are all different from each other, but we share the same values that ground our designs in the same place,” says the design team. That place is what makes up the ferm LIVING core identity: authentic Scandinavian design with a clear functionality that embraces the contrasts of life. “We’re always asking ourselves; how do we design a home with space to feel comfortably you? We want to awaken a happy, warm place in the people we’re designing for, whether it’s furniture, lighting or accessories. Occasionally, we’ll partner with an external designer for a product that’s a perfect match for our brand DNA.
The team comes from a range of educational and working backgrounds within design – some with a degree in interior and furniture design, others from the world of fashion, art, industrial and graphic design. Equally important, however, are the different perspective that each member of the team brings to the table – that gut feeling that’s uniquely informed by each person’s individual life experiences: “Call it what you want – a gut feeling, intuition – but we’re not afraid to work from that place. It’s a concrete thing, an accumulation of your taste, memories, beliefs and experiences. When designing a product, you merge that feeling with function, aesthetics and craftmanship, but it all start with intuition.”
“Call it what you want – a gut feeling, intuition – but we’re not afraid to work from that place. It’s a concrete thing, an accumulation of your taste, memories, beliefs and experiences.”
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
The process of creating a collection is a collaborative one. Though each of the designers have an area of expertise, the designs aren’t split up individually – that’s why you won’t find a ferm LIVING designer’s name attached to one of our pieces. “We produce things together and share in the responsibility of the design process. It’s a living, morphing progression that cannot be owned by one individual. It takes a strong designer to work this way, and it can be challenging – as there are feelings involved in design – but ultimately, it makes the design and the product better. Each piece is examined from every angle, by many pairs of eyes, and there’s no doubt when a piece is complete."
Similarly, the starting point or inspiration for a collection doesn’t stem from a fixed brief. Instead, it’s a part of an ongoing dialogue, a response to what is going on in the world beyond. “We are constantly contemplating the words and ideas that inform a collection. For example, we talk about balance and stillness. What does stillness look like? How do we capture that feeling in a design? What will balance look and feel like in the future?”
One of the advantages of having our own design studio is that it ensures the continuity of the dialogue, with designers who know the brand, where it came from, where it is now and where it’s headed: “It allows us to work in the long-term and ensure a red thread through everything that we produce. While it’s important to always design forward, to be thinking years ahead, it’s still important to be agile and to leave room for changes to our mindset. Especially considering how the world looks today – we need to be able to respond to these fundamental changes in our society. It actually provides us a with lot of inspiration.”
Inspiration comes to the design team in many forms. Occasionally, a product can come to life from an exercise in free association. “There are many technical and commercial aspects to being a designer, so it’s important to also immerse yourself in the free, playful nature of design – to explore creativity without boundaries. We hold a number of creative workshops where we get to play around with different mediums, get our hands dirty and just create what we feel like.”
The process of collaboration isn’t limited to the design team, but also extends to the greater ferm LIVING family. “We work closely with our colleagues in the Product Development team to put our ideas to the test. It’s an unpredictable process where each product has its own life and development time. We rely on feedback and insights from other teams, like sales, to make sure that our products are communicating with our customers.” What the designers refer to as a ‘long birth’ can be a cause for frustration, but they agree that it’s an integral part of the process. “It allows us to be deliberate in our design. Is something missing? If the answer is yes, the product isn’t ready, and it doesn’t make it into the product family. We might save it, or adapt it for a later collection. It’s a journey, but the products are better for it.”
A COMPLETE COLLECTION
When posed with the question ‘when is a collection finished?’, the designers answer with a resounding, unanimous ‘never’. “It lives on! When a new product joins the family, it takes its natural place alongside our existing products,” says the design team. “We are always building on from the last collection. Our pieces aren’t meant to last just a season. We consider it a strength that new and old collections interact and live on together.”