In Conversation with FRAMA’s Niels Strøyer Christophersen
During Gallery Weekend 2018, ANDREAS MURKUDIS 77 showcased selected pieces by Copenhagen based multi-genre brand FRAMA. We took the chance to sit down with their founder and creative director, Niels Strøyer Christophersen, and talk with him about Asia, influences, contemporary art, and ways of living.
I recently started reading a book by Japanese architect Shigeru Uchida, who discusses the differences between sitting and standing and how the culture of sitting in Japan changes architecture, the significance of horizontal vs. vertical lines, dynamics, the purposes of space and interior. In Japan, you would sit on the floor on tatami with maybe some chairs and small stools hanging on the wall – nothing more. In Europe, we have a lot of furniture that doesn’t make sense because it takes a huge amount of space for people to move it around. The furniture might be nice to look at, but it’s actually a bit clumsy.
Did studying Uchida make you question FRAMA’s approach to furniture design?
Not question, but definitely reflect on it. I’m happy that FRAMA does not offer the typical living concept of a couch that comes with a matching TV or Netflix arrangement. We are unlike other Nordic design brands that do the cozy living thing, called hyggelig in Danish. FRAMA produces objects that work together, but that’s not a necessity. It’s similar to the furniture store here: every object can stand on its own and be unique without necessarily trying to create an overall homey feeling. I guess this reflects the transition that is currently happening in the interior world.
What kind of feeling does FRAMA want to convey?
To be considerate of what you actually bring home with you. A lot of people bring all kinds of different and crazy things into their home, filling up space without really thinking about why. In that sense, most people are not really connected with themselves, otherwise, they might reflect on why they have all these things at home. Our pieces represent simplified living. I like the concept of cutting it to the bone and not complicating things: eat simple but good, live simple but nice. Empty spaces enable you to think, they reflect back on you. If there is too much stuff, your brain get’s stuck.
In contrast, whatever is displayed in the ANDREAS MURKUDIS stores is carefully considered and not random at all. The selection is almost curated. The term nothingness from Uchida’s book, inspired me significantly. It represents a personal goal. I want to distance myself from commercial and consumer culture, yet I and am producing consumer goods. But I still think that there is some kind of compromise. One part is business, and the other part is private. Still, I can’t sell things and be a monk – that just wouldn’t feel right. It has to connect somehow.
What fascinates you about the reduced lifestyle?
It constitutes an inner relief; it sets your mind free somehow. I’m very critical about contemporary art, for example – it has become commercialized. Everything has, in some way, but art for me is supposed to be the purest form of a consumer good. Unfortunately, it’s become misused for business reasons. Art for the sake of art doesn’t really exist anymore; it’s more about producing for the market instead of self-expression. That’s also where the design-business has been now for a while.
I feel like both in fashion, as well as in the art world, there is this shift towards hype-ism – what’s shareable and agreeable on social media is controlling the visual landscape. Do you think this applies to the context of interior design?
The furniture business is still a very different game. It’s not as fast as other sectors, such as fashion. But of course, some brands are trying to change the pace to produce and sell more by creating seasonal collections, for example. In contrast, our core idea is longevity. Take Giulio Cappellini, founder of Cappellini furniture as an example: he never removed any of his products from his catalog – you can imagine how thick it is by now. I don’t know if we’re going to be like that, but I really think that if you introduce something to the market, it should be for sustainability and longevity.
FRAMA offers a broad portfolio of goods ranging from cosmetic products to furniture and lighting objects. What are the origins of this variety?
We divide what we do into three collections: The Permanent Collection which is furniture, lighting, accessories, and literature, the St. Pauls Apothecary Collection which includes skincare and scents, and the Studio Collection, where you can find the FRAMA Studio Kitchen, cabinets and fixed frames, as well as our interior projects. The idea of both permanent and changing collections in museums seems to be a guiding reference for us.
Are the collaborations you do part of the “changing collections” in the FRAMA world?
Our collaborations are also a reaction to what we feel is needed from a consumer perspective. Instead of launching a new product to fulfill a need, we try to come together with like-minded partners and organize dinners, installations – like here in the store – and other gimmicks. We feel that’s better instead of launching a product in… let’s say pink (laughs).