Meet The Designers

Marianne Brandi of Day Home

26th April 2012

 

Brandi: "I love monochrome colours."

On the day I am due to meet Marianne Brandi, the creative director of super-cool Danish brand Day Home, it is pouring with rain. We are to meet at Liberty, the site of her new pop-up shop and I am early.

So, it transpires is she. As I splatter through the puddles, I spy a statuesque blonde, talking to a tall, bearded man dressed all in black. The rain seems to be bouncing off them. Their hair remains perfect, their clothes are not rumpled. I stare fascinated and then I hear them talking. Now I’ve watched The Killing. And Wallander. And Borgen, come to that. I know my Scandi languages. And as I covertly gaze from under my sodden umbrella I wonder just how many Danes can be standing outside Liberty on the average Thursday morning.

We meet properly five minutes later on the fourth floor where Brandi is plumping cushions and straightening the stack of candles in Day Home’s new pop-up shop. She is wearing a beautiful black top, a sample from her Day Birger et Mikkelson fashion line (it turns out the tall man is Keld Mikkelson, her husband), black trousers and a neutral mac. Yes, it really is all about monochrome in Scandinavia.
“I love these colours,” she says, as she plumps and tweaks. “In Denmark we do like monochrome and, what do you call it, neutral colours? This is what I like. I don’t like rose, I mean pink.”

Change the rugs with the seasons

I discreetly pull my jacket closed over my faded pink T shirt. She continues: “I like dusty colours – faded pink and aubergines, as accents to the monochrome.”

But keep the colours mainly monochrome

Phew, jacket open again. As we walk down to the cafe, where Brandi orders a monochrome coffee –  black “with cold milk”, she expands on her design philosophy.
“I think Danish design is quite often very architectural and structured, but I like to be cosy,” she says. “I also believe in changing your decor with the seasons. In Denmark, people change things in the same way as they do with fashion and clothes. That’s why at Day we do two collections each year, so that you can do that.
“In winter it’s velvet and cashmere (if you are lucky enough to have that) and in the summer we like to change to cottons and linen. It’s easy to wash, it’s more casual. But it will still be monochrome with perhaps a few faded colours. Nothing too bright.”
Brandi is not suggesting that we rush out and buy new furniture each season, but that we rotate the cushion covers, throws and rugs to create a fresh look with the changing weather. Put away the silver plated candlesticks and replace them with wooden ones.
Ah yes, the candles. That is the number one requirement for Danish home style.

The Danes buy candles like the Brits buy milk

Brandi is astonished at the price of candles in the UK. “In Denmark everyone lights candles every day. You can buy them everywhere. We buy candles like MILK. Here they are so expensive.”
Britta Gertsen, Brandi’s Danish-born PR, who is sitting with us, breaks in to agree at this point: “I light candles every single day. Even when I am sitting at my desk to work, I have candles.”

In summer change silver candlesticks for wooden

The other essential is paper napkins, and these also form part of the collection.
“Danish people love to entertain,” says Brandi. “We love to have people to our homes and to show them how we live. There is a competitive element to it and a certain amount of status attached. It is about showing your creative side, but it’s not about the labels.”
From the country that gave us Poul Henningsen and Arne Jacobsen. Hans Wegner and Verner Panton. Not about the labels?
“I think we are used to good design because we grow up with it. I used to go to my father’s office and there were PH lamps everywhere. Over all the desks, in the lavatories. Everywhere. When I met Keld, he had four – FOUR – Arne Jacobsen chairs in blue. They are in his parents’ kitchen now. I made him get rid of them. My dentist has Arne Jacobsen chairs in his waiting room, I didn’t want them in my house.”

Arne Jacobsen Series 7 Chair, a design classic

So why is Scandinavian design so enduringly popular? Brandi believes it’s partly because it was built to last. “The reason those chairs are in my dentist’s is because they are great chairs. They are as beautiful as they are comfortable. Danish design has always put function on an equal footing with form, which perhaps hasn’t happened so much elsewhere.” So in other words, I venture, the form has come before the function?
“Exactly, sometimes people think it doesn’t matter if it’s not comfortable, as long as it looks good. We don’t think like that. Another reason Scandinavian design is everywhere is because it was designed to be affordable. That’s why there are Jacobsen chairs at the dentist and PH lights in my father’s office. It was made for everyone.

PH Artichoke Light; Danish design that was made for everyone

“Also, the Danish do buy Danish and the designs are still being produced because they work well. Ironically, it’s very hard for young designers in Denmark because so much of the furniture from the Thirties and Forties is still going strong and selling worldwide. New designers don’t get a chance.”
So the big question? What does Brandi think of when she thinks of a British home?
“Flowers,” she says straight away. I wince and say: “Chintz?”
She bites her lip: “That sounds negative and I don’t mean it to. I think of colours and perhaps quirky is the word I am looking for. British design always has a twist and a fun element to it.”
Phew, that’s all right then. And for those of us who would like to lose the quirk and have a bit more Scandi cool in our homes, how do we do that?
“I never advise people on their homes, I just say ‘be yourself’,” she replies, firmly, before relenting a little:
“It should be a bit like a wedding. You know, that idea of something old, something new, something that you love. It should be a mix and match of things that reflect who you are.
“It’s about wooden floors and white walls. The furniture must be comfortable, in what you called neutrals. But you can add colour with cushions and rugs. There must be candles. The windows should be bare, or perhaps with plain blinds. No curtains. In my home I have nothing at the windows, but if you want something then just a simple blind.”

from scandinavianretreat.blogspot.com

And with that she is off. Back to rearrange the monochrome cushions and black candles to their best advantage.
The Day Home pop-up shop will be at Liberty until 10 August 2012. The collection will be online at www.day.dk from 1 May

 

 

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  • Kate 27th April 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Sometimes I think the designers would be astonished if they knew the prices their products were going for these days. I think it’s because they ARE classics, they are well made, last a lifetime and the originals are passed down the families. It is ironic that the products which are designed for all are now only available to a few because they have become so expensive. Still we can dream . . .

  • Tara Bradford 27th April 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Fascinating interview. Nobody does great, lasting design like the Danes. (But if the artichoke lamp was “made for everyone,” why is it so expensive??!!) 🙂

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