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An Insider’s Guide to Nordic Design

broste copenhagen lights

You don’t need to go very far to see the impact Scandinavian design is having on interiors, fashion and the way of life in the UK. It’s no wonder really that that slow way of living, emphasis on quality and timeless simplicity has gained tract in a time of economic and political uncertainty, as well as our increasingly busy lives, new technology and innovation. Scandinavian design has that calming, back-to-basics feel whilst still being incredibly well executed.

During Copenhagen Fashion Week SS17, we took time out from the shows to find out exactly what it is about Scandinavian design that’s thrust it into the spotlight, as well as what exactly goes in to building one of Denmark’s most successful interior design brands - Broste Copenhagen – when we spoke to its PR and Marketing Manager Sarah Trans Jensen.

sarah trans jensen interview

Sarah has been at Broste for less than a year but her passion for the brand and its products was palpable when we spoke: “I started in March [2016]. Before that I worked at a PR agency so I’ve been on the other side of the table, which is a great advantage for me. I was working with interior and fashion brands before but Broste is really ‘me’.

“The brand really stands out. We’ve been Nordic since we started, which was about 60 years ago, and now it’s a trend that’s everywhere. We’re very good at what we do; we make good, quality products that aren’t expensive.”

Given the extent of the collections and the leading status Broste holds, it comes as a slight surprise that this is only a small company – but perhaps that’s what gives it its edge. The designs come from Creative Director Charlotte Thorhauge Bech, who concentrates on creating timeless, classic pieces with Broste’s signature Nordic style, as well as seasonal pieces subtly influenced by current interior design trends.

broste aw16 cutlery

“We have our own signature identity and style. When we create feminine products they don’t have pink roses all over them – it’s Broste feminine. When we make rustic products it’s Broste rustic,” says Sarah. “In all our collections you can tell that it’s all inspired by Nordic nature. It appeals to both genders. Some brands just follow the trends but it’s so important to stay true to what you do, which is what Charlotte and our design team is really good at and that’s why we’ve seen the success that we have.”

Broste’s distinctive aesthetic can be found in its biannual lookbooks that look like they’ve come straight out of one of the interior world’s leading magazines. “We shoot our lookbooks twice a year,” says Sarah. “I love being part of this process shooting our lookbook, which means both having the stylist booked, the photographer booked, the location booked, making sure we have all the products with us. We’re a team so I do all this with Charlotte who’s our creative director. Then when the shoot is done we have to make sure everything looks nice.

“Then there’s the social media part. We have a focus on Instagram and Facebook – mostly Instagram as we have great photos. I usually have an intern with me all the time. At Broste we’re very good at helping each other out, especially when it’s busy.”

broste copenhagen aw16

Broste has been doing its thing since 1955 but it’s now that its products inspired by Denmark’s wild and varied nature have really come into their own, becoming the forefront of Scandi design. “I think the world has realised that Scandinavia and Denmark especially are really good at design. It was true years ago but also now, they’ve realised ‘ok, they’re really good at this’. The minimalistic, natural, organic way of living is how people want to live now so I think that has something to do with it. Also the Nordic countries are really good at designing and people love great design.”

sarah trans jensen

Broste is based in Copenhagen (well, the clue is in the name), a city that’s continuously referenced for its envious work-life balance, impeccable style and an effortless ease that not many capitals can boast. “I grew up in Jutland but I’ve been living here for 10 years and I’ll never go back. I love the city, I love how everyone goes out all the time – where I’m from everyone lives in a house with a garden and tends to stay in but here everyone lives in an apartment so you go to all of the gardens to go out.

“You have central but you also have Nørrebro, Vesterbro, Østerbro and all these places have their own identity. Nørrebro and Vesterbro is more like the hip, trend-setting place where Østerbro is more for young families. Every part of the city has so much to offer, despite not being that big.

“I live in Nørrebro. When we bought the apartment the neighbourhood wasn’t really what we wanted but over the past four years it’s really been growing. We live near Jægersborggade which Vogue recently named Copenhagen’s coolest street. It has all these small shops that are so authentic – coffee shops, bakeries, brewery – and you find that all over the city.”

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Sarah Atkinson
Sarah Atkinson Writer and expert

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