For designers Torbjørn Anderssen and Espen Voll, “New Nordic” isn’t just a slogan. Voll studied architecture at Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim before moving to the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in interior and furniture design. His father an architect and his mother a ceramist, Voll was “surrounded from an early age with a lot of great Scandinavian everyday objects,” he says, “and I learned to appreciate the beauty and function of these. I also enjoyed drawing and making stuff. To be able to control everything from idea till the finished product appealed to me. I started out in architecture school, but I remember always feeling much more satisfied sketching on the interior and furniture rather than the complexity of the buildings.” Anderssen studied Norwegian language at the University of Oslo before moving to Bergen Academy of Art and Design, earning a master’s degree in interior and furniture design. The son of a musician and a teacher, he wasn’t strongly drawn toward either architecture or design before attending Bergen. Instead, he was “driven by the idea of working in an area where progress would be very concrete, very tangible: I spent my day working on this thing, and here it is!” he explains. “And the deeper you enter a topic, the more interesting it becomes.” Together they are Anderssen & Voll, an Oslo-based design studio established in 2009, working in what they term the “Nordic design tradition.” Anderssen and Voll were two of the three founders of design group Norway Says, and as a duo their focus continues to be on domestic objects, from furniture and lighting to electronics, textiles and tableware, including the Berg Pillow (2010) and the Well Watering Can (2015). These and other pieces reflect Anderssen and Voll’s attention to cultural and market influences and their commitment to applying what they learn to fresh designs with practical appeal to consumers. They believe that good design both builds on and breaks with tradition. For the 100% Norway exhibition at London Design Festival 2014, they created the Tibu barstool, a reinterpretation of the 2002 Bombo stool by Stefano Giovannoni, which was notable for a seat that moved up and down via a gas-lift system. The futuristic Bombo appeared on TV in Star Trek and in the movie Lost in Space, and the Anderssen & Voll reboot represented a core philosophy of the designers. “One of our approaches is to emphasize the main feature of the product and express this in a clear physical representation: This is what I am, and this is what I will do for you.” Their intention to make visible the vertically adjustable element of their Tibu stool ultimately contributed to its organic, flowing, monochromatic design. Nedre Foss, their own manufacturing brand, is named for an old farm complex in central Oslo, Nedre Foss Gård, parts of which date to the 11th century. The complex has been reworked into a restaurant and brewery, with interiors by Anderssen & Voll. Nedre Foss the brand, which evolved from those interiors, seeks The Century Object – an object that will remain in use for at least 100 years. Anderssen & Voll have been named both Norwegian and Scandinavian designers of the year in Norway and received the Wallpaper Award, Red Dot Award and Honorary Award for Best Design in Norway.
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