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(published by courtesy of Package & Design – one of the most influential professional design magazines in China)
Minimalist, elegant, and pure – in this year's 75 iF gold award-winning works, a set of thermoses epitomizes the very best of
the Scandinavian design tradition. What is amazing is that they not only serve as thermoses but can also be turned into slow
coffee or tea brewers by affixing the matching filter. The design, both functional and aesthetic, won the favor of the iF jury and
earned a gold award. This iF gold award-winning work does indeed have an inherently Scandinavian DNA – it was created by
VE2 from Denmark.
Founded by Hugo Dines Schmidt and Morten Lauritzen in 2007, VE2 has been focusing on product, interior,
and communication design. The two founders were all well-schooled designers with master’s degrees in industrial design
from Aarhus School of Architecture. A variant of "veto," the company name "VE2" is clear and concise, which they see as
having a strong opinion – honoring strong opinions from both designers and clients.
Revealing a client's potential is one of the key competencies of VE2. Focusing on the creation of durable design, VE2's design
work always involves a thorough understanding of the companies, including their manufacturing, distribution, management,
marketing, clients, etc. By deeply digging into the factors that make up a company and by collaborating closely with the
client, VE2 has been developing powerful designs that embrace both function and aesthetics and that are highly consistent
with every aspect of the client’s brand. While helping the clients achieve market success, their work also allows the clients to
realize the value of design and to transform into "design-driven" companies.
So how does VE2 reveal their clients' potential and develop durable and coherent designs in order to successfully build up "design-driven" companies? What distinctive design philosophy do they, as industrial designers who are graduates of an architecture school, possess? With these questions in mind, Package & Design conducted an exclusive interview with Morten Lauritzen, Co-Founder of VE2, and selected some exceptional design works of VE2 to share with our readers.
Q: Package & Design | A: Morten Lauritzen, Designer and Partner of VE2
Q: First of all, congratulations on VE2’s 4 works' winning
iF DESIGN AWARDS this year. One of them, the Singles Slow
Brewer Thermo Jug, won an iF gold award 2020. It’s not
only a thermo jug but also a slow coffee/tea brewer – very
elegant and functional! Could you talk about the creative
concept, development process, and technical difficulties
having to do with this gold award-winning product?
A: Thank you very much. Yes, four iF DESIGN AWARDS this
year and one Gold is amazing, and we are both proud and
honoured. It is very much a team effort between us and
The process behind our gold award-winning product – the Singles Slow Brew Thermo Jug, has been quite long and challenging. But in close collaboration and hard work between us as designers, Zone Denmark and the manufacturer, we managed to find a way to produce the design without compromising the main idea. For this product, it was important to us to stick to the main idea of the concept. The functional concept is "to design a thermo jug that you can brew both coffee and tea directly into," and the aesthetic idea is "the brewing parts being a natural part of the thermo jug." For this product, handling boiling water, it was very important that the product radiates stability to make the use safe. The open grip has also been an important element for the design. We think that the grip adds both character to the product, but also brings some lightness to the more massive body of the product. With this design, we feel that things add up both functionally and aesthetically, and we hope it turns out to be a success for the users too, as this is where the product comes to the real test.
Q: You graduated from the Industrial Design of Aarhus
School of Architecture. What's special about the industrial
design program in an architecture school compared
with integrated design schools? Why does VE2 focus on "product + interior + communication"?
A: We see our background as designers from a school of
architecture as the very foundation in our way of thinking
design. We believe that working with architecture begins with
an understanding of how people interact with each other and
their surroundings. From there you can start to design the
space we live and interact within. We feel that we as designers
must understand people and the living and working spaces
they interact in before we can even begin to design products.
VE2 has always worked with both product and interior
design, and we are certain that we benefit from the coherence
between the two different fields of design work. So often we
learn important lessons from our interior design that we can
use in our design of products – and vice versa. We feel our
background in architecture gives us the ability to zoom out
when we are working on the design of a product. We are
always very focused on the context of the design. We very
much credit this to our architectural background.
Why do we work with communication you ask? We find that even though we are product designers, we are often able to help our clients when they need to communicate the products they do. We believe that our background in product design gives us another mindset when communicating, than what you would get from a regular ad agency. We often find that working with companies and the design of their products we get to deeply understand both the company, their marketing, and the end-users. This knowledge is a very strong platform to do meaningful communication on! Again this supports our idea, that design is always strongly influenced by its surroundings – no product out there, as good as it might be, doesn't stand much of a chance if it isn't communicated right to the end-user.
Q: VE2 focuses on durable design – in order to achieve
durable results, what considerations would VE2 focus on
A: This is something we strongly believe in – so much that we
actually write it in big letters on our website. In these times
where we have to focus on sustainability and the care of our
environment, we feel that, as designers, our most powerful
leverage is to do long lasting designs. We believe that if a
product, through its design, creates an aesthetic and functional
value to the user, then the product will most likely have a longer
lifespan than products that is bought and used without any
affection or emotional feedback.
And how do we achieve that longer lifespan?
One remedy is good quality! But what is good quality? For
us it is not necessarily expensive materials and complicated
manufacturing. We pride ourselves in always making an effort
to get the most out of both materials and manufacturing
that goes into any product. In that way, quality comes from
optimising instead of excessive use of resources.
Another powerful potion we always base our design on, is
honesty. We believe that if the idea behind a product is very
easy for the user to comprehend, we can build a stronger
relation between user and product. It’s like the old saying: "What
you see is what you get." The honesty we hope to add to our
design is certainly founded in our Scandinavian background.
For the last century, honesty has been a keystone in Danish
architecture and design – both in aesthetics and function.
Q: VE2's main goal is to create coherence – how do you
explain the "coherence" in design? What exactly does VE2
do to achieve coherence in creation?
A: This again has to do with context. As we never see a design
as a solitary issue, but always relatable to its surroundings
– the two must be in coherence. So this is implemented in
our design process from the very first sketches all through
the very last stages of manufacturing – well actually all the
way into distribution and marketing. Of course it is absolutely
crucial for us to make sure that our design is minded on the
end-user, both aesthetically and functionally. But it also has
to be taking in consideration that it should be part of a brand,
fit into a certain manufacturing, be sold through distribution
and marketed in such. Only by embracing as many of these
factors in the design process and the design development,
will we succeed in making successful products both in terms
of durability, functionality and aesthetics. Within finding the
coherence of all these elements, lies the path to very strong
designs and not least commercial products that will strengthen
our clients business and in the end enrich many end users' life
with good design.
When we address the importance of coherence in our
design, it also relates specifically to the products. We have, through the years, experienced many times that singular
products are much weaker both in the impact on the enduser as well as the distribution and market. So for us it is
way more interesting to design product-lines and productfamilies. It is such an interesting design process to implement
a design DNA through various products and keeping a
clear connection and relation between the different items.
Furthermore, the design DNA is much clearer when it is seen
adapted to a full line of different products.
Over the past 5 years, our work for the Danish design brand
Zone Denmark has been a test of our skills in creating
coherence through design. When we started working for Zone
Denmark, they had just started a new strategy to be a 100%
design driven brand. Their line of products had been neglected
for many years and most were not their own designs. So to
be able to create a powerful and visible brand, we have had a
close collaboration with the management, designing a whole
new line of products as well as eliminating old designs – even
the ones that were commercially sound. Throughout the
process it has been a multifaceted journey, involving product
design – and everything around it – all done with joined forces
to create the best coherence throughout the brand. For all
of us, both designers and brand, the pinnacle of this journey
was when Zone Denmark won the prestigious German Brand
Award 2019 cementing that a strong, visible and broad focus
on design pays off.
HEXAGON Trivets – Brand: Zone Denmark / Design: VE2 (see image above)
Q: How did VE2 improve the product design of Zone
Denmark so as to upgrade the brand? Could you please
talk about it with an example?
A: I can give you a good example of how we, in the process,
made a successful fusion between the old and the new Zone
Denmark. When we first met Zone Denmark, one of their best
selling products were some very simple graphical trivets made
of silicone. They were pretty outdated in color and shape, but
they sold well with a low price. So we decided this was an area
of their line of products where we could move forward standing
on the shoulders of their existing products. So we designed a
line of new hexagon trivets based on the existing manufacturing
method and materials. Because of the hexagon shape,
supported by repetitive patterns in the hexagon, the end-users
are now able to make nice patterns on their dinner table by
combining several different trivets. This feature we supported by
setting a brand new color scheme for the Hexagon trivets. The
new trivets from the beginning were easy to sell. Furthermore,
the shops realized they were more likely to sell 2 or 3 trivets. So
within the same price point we moved the trivets from being a
campaign, price focused product to being a design product.
Q: Revealing clients' potential is one of the key values of
VE2. Please talk about how you revealed clients’ potential
with an actual an example.
A: Any company has potentials waiting to be revealed – who
would argue against that? But when we talk about "revealing
potential" regarding our design work, it’s to clearly pinpoint that
design, to us, is not just about making "pretty things"! It is so
important for us that our clients understand that our design
work involves a thorough understanding of the company, their
manufacturing, distribution, management, marketing, clients,
etc. It is from digging into this mass of factors, that makes up a company, that we feel we are able to supply design as a lever
to utilise the potentials within the company.
If we should pick out a significant case, it would be one of our
oldest clients: Hitsa.
Hitsa is a Denmark based manufacturer making high-quality
outdoor furniture and functional products for urban outdoor
spaces with both steel and wood manufacturing still mainly in
Denmark. When we had our first meeting with Hitsa, they were
a small family owned company. Sales and management was
taken care of by the owner, a blacksmith himself, and behind
him was a small and very skilled staff of about 10 employees.
The economy in the company was sound and sales were
stable. We quickly came to find that their range of product was
set in two categories:
Firstly, there was at large range of non-design products –
most of them similar to the competitors in the market. Hitsa
was known for good quality, fast and flexible delivery and
in materials and craftsmanship which made these products
perform well. Secondly, Hitsa produced a range of products
that were all designed by designers or architects. There were
a lot of different designs and they all had their own aesthetic
value and often they were designed to specific outdoor spaces
or architecture. One by one they were good designs, but as
a whole they left Hitsa with a bit of a messy range of designs.
Furthermore they often sold very few as soon as the project
they were designed to was finished.
About FJORDPARK (Brand: Hitsa / Design: VE): FJORDPARK is a line of outdoor furniture designed for Danish manufacturer Hitsa since 2008. All products are designed to be aesthetically adaptable for repetition in urban outdoor settings. FJORDPARK was designed to complement contemporary Scandinavian architecture but has proven to be popular all over Europe. The design also includes several new functional features around the daily maintenance on the waist bins (see image above).
So when VE2 came in contact with Hitsa, we realised that the
potential in the company was to try to join the forces of the
two ranges they were working with. We set out to do a broad
range of well-designed commercial products based on the
manufacturing and highly skilled craftsmanship that existed
within the company. It was important that we designed a range
of products that would fit comfortably into any setting, as it
this way would support the financial need for mass-market
products in the Hitsa product range. On the other hand,
we had to add design to the range both aesthetically and
The most interesting aspect of this process was that within
the development. We had the chance to work closely with
the manufacturing. In this process, we discovered so much
potential within the production. As soon as the guys on the floor
understood the common journey we were on, they went into
great length to support the process towards better design and
a total lift of the brand Hitsa. Still today, we do at least as much
cooperation and product development with the blacksmiths as
with the management.
This whole process started around 2007 when VE2 just set off.
Today we are proud to see Hitsa as a market leader in Denmark
and a very strong player in the Scandinavian- and European
market. Hitsa is no longer a family owned company but a large
corporation with several affiliated companies. Our work closely
related to the core of the company still carries on – and we
keep finding new potentials within the company. And still good
design is a powerful leverage for keeping Hitsa strong.
Q: The product design of VE2 has a classical
Scandinavian style. Did this style come about naturally
or intentionally? How does VE2 combine Scandinavian
style with a global outlook?
A: Well we can't run from the fact that we are a Scandinavian
team here at VE2… But what is Scandinavian style? Maybe it is
most difficult for ourselves as Scandinavians to define.
I think we owe a lot of our Scandinavian design-approach to
our background in Danish architecture – especially the Danish contemporary architects through the 20th century. Through
this period, architecture in Denmark evolved towards an
understanding of people, context and functionality – instead
of either pure aesthetics or basic craftsmanship. Through the
20th century, we saw many Danish architects getting involved
in architecture as well as product- and furniture design. So
architecture and design has been intertwined in many ways and
was the foundation in our education. I also think we in Denmark
have had a great opportunity to development into an industrial
society on very strong relations to the great craftsmen our
culture is build on. A relation that strengthened rational thinking,
understanding of materials, resources and manufacturing and
always based on an understanding of the end-user.
So "Scandinavian" is definitely not something we pursue –
it's in our DNA. So to say that our design has a Scandinavian
style…? We see it more as our designs are deriving from a
Scandinavian design process.
For years when we have been asked to explain our design
process, we have often referred to the words of Antoine de
Saint-Exupery: "Perfection is Achieved Not When There Is
Nothing More to Add, But When There Is Nothing Left to Take
Away." This is what we daily strive for in our design work!
So how can Scandinavian design have a global outlook? We
have found that if a product is designed to interact with the user
in a clear and obvious way and the product in any possible way
strives to be simple and obvious in its approach – this will make
the product approachable by anybody regardless of culture
Q: VE2's design products mostly feature calm and elegant
colours. Is this what you prefer? What visual impression
do you want to create for the users?
A: Colour is an extra parameter within design, and a really
important one, especially when you work with design objects
that are simple and "cut to the bone." Furthermore, colours
have the ability to tie together products across an assortment.
Each colour must work individually, have a broad appeal and
be a part of the whole palette within the clients universe. This is
how we work with colours for Zone Denmark.
We are very much inspired by nature when we choose colors
for our products and to encourage a certain atmosphere or
feeling. We also believe that it is important to choose colors
that can be long lasting, without it being only black and white.
With products in different shades and calm colours, we believe
that the user can create their own personal universe across the
collection and make it a part of their own personal atmosphere
at home. If a product appeal to your senses, it is more likely
that you keep it longer.
Q: VE2 has won many design awards. As for you, what’s
the significance in participating in design awards?
A: Of course for us, as designers, winning esteemed design
awards is a badge of recognition from our peers and a window
for us to contribute to the global focus on design. We know
that the industry, as well as the design community, has a focus
on the awards, and that the collective of awarded designs has
an impact on how design is perceived, as well as how designthinking is evolving in the future.
That being said, we encourage our clients to enter the awards as we know they can benefit from this token of recognition by a greater visibility and commercial impact in their markets. We have through the years also experienced a more fascinating effect of winning design awards. As we through the years have had the opportunity to move several companies into being design driven, we have experienced that design awards can be a real "game changer" in moving the internal self-understanding and strengthen the belief in design as carrying element in the company identity.
About Lighting (Brand: Lampas / Design: VE2):
The sculptural NYE Bollard Lighting enhances its surroundings both night and day. With its timeless design, the bollard is a perfect fit for both modern and classic architectural settings as well as parks, and alongside footpaths and green areas in the urban landscape. The focus in developing the NYEBollard has been to avoid glare and light pollution. The result is attractive, symmetrical downward illumination which The NYE family has been designed with a focus on purity of expression and urban integration. Our aim has been to come up with a unique, simple Nordic design. All products in the family have been manufactured so as to enable them to be easily dismantled for efficient recycling. The family is available in corten steel, hot-dip galvanised steel or hot-dip galvanised steel with subsequent powder coating on request. NYE Bollard was awarded Red Dot Design Award 2020 - Best of The Best Lighting Design (see image above).
(Source: Package & Design, 2020, July Issue, p. 28-45)
More from the series of the Package & Design Magazine, May Issue 2020: