“Standing together as creatives
is important in the world of 2023.”
Atelier Axo is a Danish design studio that pushes boundaries in the realm of art, architecture and design, with a unique perspective that comes from the intersection of disciplines between founders Rose Hermansen and Caroline Sillesen. The studio creates detail-oriented architecture, interiors and furniture that are not only striking but also sustainable. In this interview, Hermansen and Sillesen take us through their joint design process, their approach to sustainability and how they balance the needs of their clients with their own vision.
Atelier Axo, founded in 2019 by designer Rose Hermansen and architect Caroline Sillesen, work in the intersection between design and architecture. Small-scale architecture and interior design, as well as objects and furniture, are the specialties of the studio.
Micha van Dinther
TNE Can you tell us about the founding of Atelier Axo and what led you to start a cross-disciplinary design and architecture practice?
AA In 2019, we won a competition that lead the decision to start a business together. Today our studio deals with projects on several scales and across the disciplines of art, architecture and design. Our practice is slowly working its way up in scale, which from the start mainly focused on furniture design and interiors to now also include transformation and housing. We work interdisciplinary as Rose is a designer and Caroline is an architect. The intersection of our fields creates interesting dialogues from our different perspectives.
TNE How does the focus on small-scale architecture inﬂuence the design process and outcomes at Atelier Axo?
AA A big part of our interest lies in the detail. So, when designing small-scale architecture, like the Skibby Vacation House, to us it is equally important how the window ledge meets the kitchen table top as where the kitchen is placed in the house. It is just as important to pay attention to both the inner and outer facades when it comes to window and door placement as it is to consider the feel and appearance of the door handles. These practices inform each other, from details and furniture to architecture and vice versa.
TNE How does Atelier Axo approach designing for speciﬁc sites and what role does the existing context play in your projects?
AA Context is a hugely important factor for us, whether it is an object or architecture we work with. Context helps to define a given space that you can choose to work actively with. For us, good architecture relates to the context, whether it has actively made a contrast to it or works with it. At Atelier Axo, we are aware of the traditions and places we work with, but often like to push the limits a bit on what already exists in terms of design and material.
TNE Can you speak to the relationship between the architecture and interior design projects at Atelier Axo and how they inform one another?
AA Just as context is important, interior and architecture also lean on each other. When starting an interior project, we analyze the room from an architectural point of view. We explore how the light falls, the spatial volume, the flow, the materiality and the acoustics. In this way, architecture also helps to define a direction for us when it comes to designing and choosing materials for a space.
TNE How does Atelier Axo approach the design and creation of furniture and objects in relation to your architectural projects?
AA Changing in and out of scale is an important tool for us. It keeps us being playful. The same conversations and discussions can unfold, whether it is a house or furniture that we design. It always starts with the same starting point – the human body and proportions. When designing furniture or object, you are allowed to experiment a bit more as there is no client involved, in that way furniture sketching and the production phase are also a bit easier to access.
TNE Can you speak to the role of sustainability in Atelier Axo’s work and how it is incorporated into your projects?
AA It is a big priority for us to choose sustainable solutions, both in terms of the origin of the materials and socially sustainable production and lifetime of our projects. We have a special focus on the level of detail and the more haptic and sensory aspect, as we believe it is important to create places, furniture and objects that patina beautifully over time and retain their qualities, functions and aesthetics. That way, they can be appreciated by those who are in daily contact with them and hopefully, they will handle them with respect and keep them for many years.
TNE How does Atelier Axo balance the needs and wants of the client with your own vision as a studio?
AA It is exciting to get to know our clients, their dreams and their wishes. If we think it is a match, we find it instructive to be let into someone’s world, whether it is a family, a chef at a restaurant or a shop owner. The dialogue between the client and us must be seen as a collaborative space where we both exchange knowledge. Of course, we compromise sometimes, but we have a certain sense of aesthetics, so most clients come to us because they are already in line with that.
TNE How does Atelier Axo intend to continue to push boundaries in design and architecture in the new year of 2023?
AA We see ourselves as a studio in flux, meaning we have gradually learned that nothing is certain or predictable. We started the design studio shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic, and it has taught us to always be ready for change. Having said that, we hope that 2023 offers exciting new interior and architecture projects both nationally and internationally. We hope to create new and good business partners and exchange knowledge with others in the industry. We believe that sharing knowledge and standing together as creatives is important in the world of 2023.
“Changing in and out of scale is an important tool for us. It keeps us being playful.”