Drake’s in Copenhagen: Furniture Philosophy with Christoffer Østergaard
If you visit us in Copenhagen at the Drake’s Open Studio in partnership with GOODS, then you have the very talented Christoffer Østergaard to thank for much of the interior. Working alongside our friends, the architects at Studio Abroad, Christoffer is a master carpenter and cabinetmaker whose workshop is on the outskirts of the city, which also happens to be the farm where he grew up.
Wearing the Drake’s Fair Isle lambswool sleeveless V-neck jumper, light blue cotton chambray button-down shirt, and stone wash Japanese denim, we recently visited Christoffer at his studio to discuss work, life, playlists, where to visit on a trip to Copenhagen and why Denmark has such a unique philosophy and culture of craft and design.
Drake's: Hi Christoffer, can you describe your background in carpentry and furniture making? How did you get started?
Christoffer Østergaard: I’ve instinctively always felt and known that I had to work in a creative field. I grew up on a farm, where using my hands and being practical around materials and machines was core to my everyday life as a kid. Those two experiences and perspectives are the foundation of my passion for both the creative, aesthetic process, and the need of practically finding and inventing the solutions that lie behind furniture making.
When I was younger I actually thought I wanted to be an architect. Turned out I had a much bigger need to be practical and really execute the ideas and designs myself — taking them from thought to action. That process gives me energy.
On top of that I’ve been lucky to learn from some great people at Københavs Møbelsnedker when I did my apprenticeship more than 10 years ago. They played a big role in my early steps on this journey. I actually built my workshop at my childhood home — the farm. That feels like a very natural loop to me.
Drake's: What is your work uniform? Do you have one?
CØ: That’s an interesting question, as my work uniform doesn’t differ much from my 'life uniform.' My work is the perfect place for an afterlife for my clothes, which is also why I always prioritise high quality and timelessness over trends and fashion. On 9 out of 10 days you can find me in classic 501s, a good quality shirt and a sweater from either SNS Herning or Andersen-Andersen.
Drake's: Why do you think Denmark has such a great reputation for design and craft? Is there a special ethos there?
CØ: No doubt that Danish designers and crafters stand on the shoulders of giants. We have so much of a legacy from the 50s and 60s, great designers, such as Grete Jalk, Hans Wegner and Finn Juhl. They really did pave the way for future generations.
When it comes to interior design and interests in Denmark, you have to know that we live a big part of our lives in darkness, meaning that winters are really, really long and dark. On the shortest days, the sun gets up at 9AM and leaves us again before 3PM. That forces us to spend a lot of time indoors. Which is why the atmosphere of our homes is so important to us and the design and quality of the things we surround ourselves with is key to our everyday feelings.
Also, culturally the distance between the two disciplines: 'design' and 'craft' is super short. We have close relationships and collaborations across those fields, and also expect that openness and respect from each other.
Drake's: What was your approach to creating the furniture and fittings for the Drake’s Open Studio?
CØ: It was a close collaboration with Studio Abroad; and it was such a pleasure to work with them. As with every project, it’s a constant dialogue and in this case it was especially focused on the choice of materials, bringing in the local perspective to what was smartest for a Danish setting.
Drake's: Do you have a personal work philosophy?
CØ: First and foremost it’s the people for me. Whether that is a private client that needs something made specially for their home, or a collaboration with designers, the chemistry between us is key. I am a one-man army and my work is really 1:1 with me - from the first talks and ideas to the final piece of furniture. Over the years I’ve built up partnerships and friendships with studios such as atelier axo and Krøyer-Sætter-Lassen.
Secondly I only create things that I know will last, and in my workshop I only buy and use the materials needed. There is absolutely no need to produce more cheap and fast furniture. There’s already too much of that in our world and I really don’t feel like contributing to the throwaway mentality — just look at where consumerism has taken us in the first place. Our generation has a big responsibility when it comes to providing solutions that can guide us in a better direction.
Drake's: What do you listen to in the studio?
CØ: It really depends on the day and where I am in the process, but as a background energy my headphones are often filled with the tones of Khruangbin, Bertrand Belin, Bob Dylan and the Danish radio station P6 Beat, which is very nerdy around both old and new music. For the late night hours, I’m keeping up my pace with more experimental electronic music such as Four Tet and the radio show Beats in Space.
Drake's: If you had to recommend three places to visit in Copenhagen or nearby, where would you take us?
CØ: I would start off with coffee at Italo Caffé, which is around the corner from the next stop; Brigade Gallery. The team behind Brigade is always representing interesting artists and the size of the place makes it such a good experience.
For lunch I would get away from the inner city buzz and go to Nordvest, an area of Copenhagen that has yet to be overwhelmed, but has some amazing gems. The best durum is served at Kösk Kebab, but newer places such as the bakery Flere Fugle and Tekno Eatery are definitely also worth a visit.
In the afternoon I would take you on a drive to the North coast. Forty five minutes from Copenhagen you’ll find the amazing statue museum and park Tegners Museum. To wrap up the day, take a dip in the ocean off of Kattegat, by the harbour of the small town Gilleleje. Something that I prioritise to do almost daily — the water is crystal clear and fresh.
Drake's: Do you have any current inspirations? Any other artists, designers, or architects that you find compelling?
CØ: Asger Harbou Gjerdevik has some great energy in his paintings, and the video artist Doug Aitken has always been a source of inspiration. Sif Itona is an artist that I admire for both her universe and craft skills.