a tour into sigurd larsen’s berlin studio
sigurd larsen is a berlin-based danish architect working between the disciplines of architecture, interior architecture and product design. founded in 2010, the studio completes projects that range from low-cost housing, hotel rooms, and cultural buildings to furniture design. continuing to explore new fields, its work seeks to merge the aesthetics of high-quality materials with functional concepts.
a year ago, in 2020, the design team moved to a new studio in the heart of berlin. they were searching for a space that can house a big table where all the team can work together, and also be reachable for clients. the place accommodates shelves and nooks full of models and samples, making the space more lively. where one can smell, touch and feel all these different pieces that will become part of a project.
‘we like to work with a lot of materials that become more beautiful over time, even when designing furniture, we kind of think in that time span of architecture, we build something and if it doesn’t last for 200 years, we made a mistake, we want things to stay for a long, long time.’ to learn more about the architect and the firm’s new workplace, designboom toured sigurd larsen’s studio for a closer look. read the interview in full below.all images © designboom
interview with sigurd larsen
designboom (DB): what made you choose this line of work? were you influenced by anybody? please tell us a bit about your background.
sigurd larsen (SL): I grew up in denmark, and I think it is a country that celebrates its architects. you grew up with an awareness that this and this building is from that and that architect. I had some influence but like most other architects, I grew up playing around with lego and I think there was probably this idea, you create and build things with your hands. I was always a very creating child, I was always building stuff for growing or whatever. so I feel it was kind of nice meditation for me as a kid. but I never wanted to be anything else than architect.
it’s very random, I don’t have any other architects in my family, but I knew since I was a kid that I wanted to be an architect. I think my parents always wondered where that came from, or why I like this. we have a few in our families of graphic designers, art historians, and other people working with creativity in different ways. but this very specific thing that I wanted to do, didn’t come from my parents.
DB: you work on a diverse range of projects, from architecture to product design. is there a common denominator, in your way to approach projects of different fields?
SL: I think the whole concept of being an architect and also working with furniture design, is, first of all, something that’s very typical in denmark, where architects design furniture, that’s kind of our thing. but I think, for me personally, it is very much about that every project we do, is to find some sort of creative freedom, especially in architecture, which has a lot of regulations that influence what we do, there’s a lot of budgets, a lot of facts of reality. I feel like with a smaller scale of things, like furniture design, there’s actually a lot more creative freedom to find.
reaching a certain scale, a project becomes a political matter, the whole city is interested, everyone is on board. that is a democratic process and some people understand and work with it. and I think that’s why we probably are still at this point, working so much with that scale between, building hotels, not 10,000 sqm, but more like a few thousand. I think that’s what I find with both scales like architecture and furniture design, but there’s still a lot for us to do there, we still have a lot to say.
DB: many of your works employ natural materials like wood. as we see for example, in the mountain house in austria, or in the tree top hotel in denmark. how important is it for you to feel a connection in your work with nature?
SL: we like to work with a lot of materials that become more beautiful over time, even when designing furniture, we kind of think in that time span of architecture, we build something and if it doesn’t last for 200 years, we made a mistake, we want things to stay for a long, long time. working with materials such as wood or copper, having these nice abilities that the more you use them, the nicer they get. and that’s a thought that we put into both furniture design and architecture. the wooden floors in the houses were built, they will still look fantastic in many, many years, even when several families have lived there and use them all the time. that’s one of the reasons why it’s a fantastic material. but it’s also for many other reasons there has been in the last decade there’s been so much research going on with wood, we can build high-rise structures out of wood that are still fire safe. although it’s an ancient building material, it has been rediscovered after many years of concrete and modernism, and so on.
looking at the time that I graduated, I probably hit exactly that time in history where this is happening. right now, starting a year ago, we have this problem that we are lacking the material. so everyone is looking at all the materials, unfortunately, none of them have exactly the same really good abilities in terms of sustainability. I think we will return to building long with wood again when it’s more available because it is part of the circle, we take it out from nature, and we use it in our buildings. when it’s in our buildings, it doesn’t get burned or anything. it keeps the CO2 contained within and makes room for new trees to grow up, and so on. I think we will get back to it again; we are still obviously filling with wood in the meanwhile, we have to accept some waiting time and maybe certain prices that are a little bit bizarre.
DB: and apart from sustainability, touching wood and working with it acts as stress relief.
SL: when you come into a house made out of wood, you immediately smelled it, and smells nice for years. and every time you wash it the smell comes out again. so I think that’s probably quite common to people. maybe that combined with a warm color hue that would automatically have if you leave fairly natural. I think that’s also something people respond to more or less subconsciously.