‘Everything falls into place when you are around things that make you happy,’ says Rasmus Warnke Nørregaard, who, along with his business partner Jacob Kam, saved design emporium Skandium from the brink of closure last summer. The reason for this daring financial rescue is simple: Rasmus, a TV personality, author and entrepreneur in his home country of Denmark, is evangelical about Scandinavian design. ‘Sometimes, I have tried to explain to people during interviews that, when I am in a bad mood, I just need to be around my furniture,’ he adds. ‘Nobody understands.’
That is, of course, not entirely true. Before investing in Skandium, Rasmus ran Everclassic.com, an auction website focusing on vintage Swedish and Danish designs. Its success was proof he was not alone in his obsession. And it is an obsession. Step into the family home that he shares with his wife Maria, a photographer, and children, Alberte, Vega, Viggo and Arthur, and you are surrounded by icons. A cabinet in the living room is even topped with a museum-style display of chairs by the likes of Arne Jacobsen and Hans J Wegner.
Situated in Copenhagen’s trendy Østerbro district, the 155-square-metre apartment is a testament to Rasmus’s respect for the traditional minimalism and handcrafted beauty of the Danish style. He is, he admits, a bit of a purist when it comes to his favourite subject. ‘A lot of Scandi designers are trying to create a more international look,’ he says. ‘It feels like they are losing the simplicity we are known for.’ His favourite piece here is, predictably, a true classic: the ‘Peacock’ chair by Hans J Wegner. ‘It is from the original production run,’ he says, marvelling at the months of labour it took to make just one.
He may wish he had been born in the 1940s or 50s, when many pieces that make up the core Scandi design canon were produced, but he’s also optimistic about the future. ‘There are small firms popping up that are trying to create new classics,’ he claims, before promising that ‘20 per cent of the items on sale in Skandium will be by upcoming, largely unknown furniture makers and designers’.
Aesthetes will soon be able to see these new pieces in person at the company’s recently opened showroom on London’s Brick Lane. The 200-square-metre space is arranged like a stylish living room, with gems from Frama (its new range is exclusive to Skandium), Kristina Dam and Nuura placed alongside picks from the big Scandinavian brands’ latest collections – think Fritz Hansen, Carl Hansen & Søn and Louis Poulsen – and vintage buys. After a few months, the store will expand, with an extra 500 square metres allowing Rasmus to showcase even more. As well as this flagship opening, the website has been completely redesigned and you can expect to see up to six pop-up shops across the UK each year.
At the moment, these ambitious plans mean Rasmus is currently dividing his time between London and home. When in Copenhagen, he can be found either at the desk in his bedroom, surrounded by design books, in one of the cafés beside the harbour, or searching for inspiration at the Royal Hotel. Rasmus loves to temporarily move his office to this historic venue, designed by his hero Arne Jacobsen. ‘It feels like his spirit is there,’ he explains.
It’s not all about work, though. Play is hugely important. Rasmus enjoys seeing his kids turn his ‘Peacock’ chair into a blanket fort and is always on the lookout for new toys, from Lego and Playmobil to action figures, which sit alongside ceramics by the likes of Lyngby Porcelæn and Axel Salto. ‘I’m a collector of almost everything,’ he admits. ‘I need to be careful not to end up on a documentary!’
He may be prone to hoarding, but Rasmus’s passion for the items that catch his eye is infectious. If he can bring the same eclectic joy to Skandium’s stores that we find in his own home, they’re sure to chime with the UK’s love of Scandinavian design. skandium.com
For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration March 2020
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