Playing with Less

Playing with Less

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Timelessness is important to Daniel Rybakken. The Norwegian designer tries to avoid following trends, instead marrying ingenuity with a sense of play. Has he finally become the inventor he wanted to be as a child?

The Kiila collection marks a departure for Norwegian designer Daniel Rybakken. Renowned for his innovative work with light, Rybakken’s collaboration with Artek sees him entering the field of classic industrial design, creating furniture and working with wood, all firsts for the designer.

Rybakken works slowly in his studio situated inside a 19th century former thread factory. He takes on only a few projects a year. ‘I want all my projects to be worthy of my collection,’ he says. ‘I only work with what I am inspired by, what interests me.’ Research plays an important role in his process.

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‘To see things as they are, with fresh eyes, not to take things for granted, is no easy matter.’

A Scandinavian designer, his work places emphasis on the honesty of materials and pays careful attention to construction. In partnering with Artek, Rybakken wanted to remain aware of the company’s heritage, to create fresh contemporary Artek furniture, while at the same time breaking new ground.

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‘Our solution is simple,’ Rybakken says, ‘and that’s what makes it interesting.’

The results, debuted at the Stockholm Design Week in 2017, are striking. Rybakken’s interpretation of minimalism isn’t simply about reduction, something is added, in this case a sense of playfulness. The Kiila Coat Stand, for example, evokes a photographer’s tripod. This is no accident. At his studio, Rybakken would often hang items from a camera tripod, noticing how it remained perfectly balanced. All the items within the collection, including the coat rack, a coat stand and a bench, possess strong lines, a commitment to aesthetics and composition, and a pronounced graphical quality.

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‘Timelessness plays an important role.’

The son of two designers, Rybakken wanted to become an inventor as a child, and inventiveness is still a value he prizes. In the Kiila collection, this can be seen at work in the ingenious way the joints connect. Both the coat rack and stand eschew traditional carpentry; there are no wooden elements that touch. Instead, they are held together by polyamide pins alone.

The outcome is a collection at the convergence of art and technology.

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