A product of the famous Danish design tradition, Morten Georgsen worked for the likes of Bang & Olufsen before establishing his own bureau, Futhark Design. Along with inspired ideas that produce stunning pieces of furniture for homes, gardens, offices, shops and hotels, he is also passionate about making good design available to more than just a select few. In this he cites fellow Scandinavian icons such as Abba and Ikea A, who may not always get the critical acclaim but have been embraced by the public at large.
Georgsen’s approach to life mirrors his egalitarian philosophy. “The world of design has always been wrapped up in a layer of snobbery and elitism, as if good taste is the intellectual preserve of a few and the aesthetic monopoly of artists. In some ways, this aura that surrounds designers and architects is good, as a certain mystique can inspire and challenge new generations to emulate the great masters that went before, but at the end of the day furnishing is a practical need that we all have – and in that sense we all deserve quality.”
It may be clear by now that Morten Georgsen does not subscribe to the ranks of design intelligentsia who wrap their work in shrouds of pseudo-intellectual phraseology and confer a deep sociological meaning to their creative process. “Let artists experiment with their deepest feelings and then try to explain them back to us as we stand before some piece of modern art,” says Georgsen. “As for designers, well, we have a more earthly practical role to fulfil, although I do agree that design is where art and engineering, culture and industry, come together.”
Making fine design accessible
Morten Georgsen founded Futhark Design because he is passionate about design, and how it can shape our surroundings and influence our lives, but seeing no reason why we can’t all enjoy fine-looking pieces, he has become a specialist in styling to order, equally adept at creating collections for economically priced retailers such as Carrefour and Conforama as he is at producing avant-garde pieces for top Italian and Scandinavian brands such as Bo Concept.
“Of course it is great fun and creatively very pleasing to make limited series pieces for luxurious brands,” says Morten. “For one thing you know your creations will be made with the use of the finest materials, which cannot help but make them more beautiful. A natural feeling for design – that is stylish and trendy as opposed to faddish and pastiche – combines with a knowledge of materials and the structural part of the job. However, making an affordable range look first rate is even more of a challenge – and an achievement we have become something of a specialist company in.”
When working for mass brands Morten and his team have to take such factors into consideration as tighter development budgets, cheaper materials, broad practical application and above all, design with cheaper, mass-produced manufacturing systems in mind. “There are often more variables and you become more involved with external factors such as production processes, logistics, styling that suits heavily segmented mass market tastes and ultimately, creating a great product range at highly economical prices.”
A bright outlook
A bon vivant by nature and perhaps somewhat un-Danish in his gregarious manner, Morten Georgsen moved to Spain some eight years ago to continue his work from his new-built home in the villa suburb of El Bosque, near Valencia. “I designed my house, using the natural slope of the terrain in such a way that the family enjoys privacy and can make the most of the outdoor lifestyle we enjoy in Spain, whilst at the same time having a studio at the bottom of the property.” Here he works with his team of international designers, inspired by sunny views over the valley and golf course.
The company, which also has a creative base in Denmark and one in China, employs teams of designers from a wide variety of countries and ages. “The different cultural traditions and age perspectives enrich our work,” says Morten. “This is very important in an industry where it is perhaps too easy to become complacent and keep repeating a certain ‘house style’. I like to shake things up and keep them fresh, so besides exploring new styles in themselves we are also always looking for new materials to work with, combining new and old to inspire new ideas and create infinite combinations.”
After several years in the sun he is returning to Denmark, but will retain a base in Valencia and China. “I’m selling the villa – hell, Rimontgo even got the property on television – and although my main residence will be in Denmark I will keep an apartment in the city. Valencia has a great buzz and there are some wonderful districts so I will be coming back on a regular basis for that typically Spanish combination of work and pleasure. Let’s face it, once you’ve tasted the sunshine and the lifestyle it is hard to leave it behind altogether.”