No Nonsense Design - Morten Georgsen

A Champion of Minimalism, Morten Georgsen is a highly regarded Danish furniture designer. The creator of many successful designs with international success, he is the founder of By Georgsen, a design studio based in Valencia, Spain. This highly creative gentleman shares his design journey, what makes him tick and some of his many inspirations with FFE.

Morten Georgsen

Lugano Wall System Adria Coffee Table Alba Side Table

Lugano Wall System Adria Coffee Table Alba Side Table

Morten Georgsen’s design journey began at the famous Bang & Olufsen, a company known for its highly appealing products with distinctive designs. He started off in an apprentice job as a Product/Design Assistant and rose to become a Product Manager at the young age of 23. During his time at the company, Georgsen worked and learned from competent designers, marketing people and strategists. The experience gave him a unique background of designing and good perceptive of international markets and strategies. This understanding is said to have been carried over to his design company, By Georgsen.

Provence Bedroom Series

Silo Shelf Sideboard Nosko Dining Table
Georgsen is driven by the desire to design for the many, not just an exclusive few. Through his designs, he seeks to move the average persons that like a design when they actually see it but are not aware of it before they set their eyes on it – in other words attractive new designs that pull the heart strings.

The core to his design philosophy is reflected in his company’s slogan of creating “no nonsense design”. Georgsen mandates that although his designs and those coming out of his studio may be daring and different, they should be understandable and never “nonsense” for the sake of being different.

Accordingly, Georgsen’s inspiration comes from living – being alive and enjoying having all senses open and ready for everything that happens around. All the inputs are supposedly processed in his mind when he is asleep. All the great ideas are then put down on paper where they would take shape in the morning.

While minimalism used to be his entry to all designs, the champion of minimalism today is said to try to conceive a warmer and now and then a bit more elaborated expression – not with ornaments but in textures and in the general use of materials - a flair that comes age he claimed.

Meta Table Tami Chair Duo Bookshelf

Adelaide table for in and outdoor use

Bowler Lounge Chair Ankar End Table Duo Bookshelf
For Georgsen, the design process begins with an idea. When ideas flow in his mind, he would sketch the renderings but often stop to check as to whether they are great designs, if they are functional, if they fit the customers’ profiles and styles, and if the designs can be manufactured at the right cost etc. The renderings are then discussed with the respective customers with technical drawings eventually produced but only if they meet the range of criteria Georgsen has set.

Prototypes are subsequently produced, made by the professionals – factories of the customers. However Georgsen and his team is involved in every step of the way to look at the resulting prototypes, make evaluations and suggest any alterations and improvements etc together with the factories.

“We believe in a structured design phase and a lean process – that makes your brains clear and ready for creative thoughts without too many not desirable bumps on the way”, Georgsen added.

Georgsen further highlighted that he would never make a detail or something in his design just as an ornament – every bit in his design is to have a structural or functional purpose. At the moment, his studio produces a lot of designs with inspiration from the country where he grew up i.e. Denmark.

“Scandinavian design has got an immense revival so for me things have come full circle. However it’s a bit like with ties, you cannot just find your 30 years old tie in the wardrobe and expect that it will be the hip star of the moment… it (what it takes to be hip) may be similar yet different.” Georgsen stated.

The studio is said to also do a lot of Modern American styles in which the design is a bit more chunky but where textures and details are of extreme importance. There are also some modern rustic collections as well as designs that emphasizes Mother Nature and cope with the 2016 way of living. It is a wide variety of styles the company is capable of producing.

Another basic principle that is conscientiously applied in all of Georgsen’s designs, he stresses the importance that Form and Function must follow each other. He recalls his first successful design which was a concept called Color for Kids. It was a line of very smooth rounded MDF in LEGO colors and a lot of exciting features for kids was added. Georgsen was able to relate to kids as he had two small boys at that time and he developed a good feeling for their preferences. The success was immense apparently. The man went from having nothing to having a comfortable lifestyle overnight. This particular line lasted over 10 years and was copied all over the world. After almost 25 years, that factory remains a loyal customer. “Form, function, timing and target group just merged… it was fantastic” Georgsen remarked.

Many designers have their preferred materials of choice. Georgsen is no different. Although there are constant talks of new materials in the industry, only very few of them actually gained popularity. Georgsen is acutely aware that whilst fancy, new materials are often simply not competitive in the market as well as not practical cost wise. This is placed in stark contrast to established materials like wood, metal, glass, MDF as well as a variety of fabrics and leathers for upholstery. Although Georgsen admits to also creating plastic chairs, concrete tables amongst a host of others, his pro-business attitude prevails. His go-to materials are those commonly available. Obviously his choice of material is also dependant on the particular customer and his/her image and profile. Regardless, the issues of sustainability and good working conditions are also always at the back of his mind and often communicated to clients.

Copenhagen Wall System Chiva Coffee Table

Solana Bedroom

Jakarta Dining Series

“There are few things that are endless – one is the Universe, another is the time that can be spent on a design… The design process must be managed and structured or else time and money are slipping.” shared Georgsen.

In By Georgsen, the founder is the face of the organization as well as the main contact to the customers. This is because Georgsen knows the image, profile and strategies of the clients. His designers typically work with the Product Manager or equivalent in the companies they work with. At the moment, By Georgsen has a total of seven designers in Valencia supported by offices in China and Vietnam.

At the headquarters, “stories” are developed around the concepts the team creates. The designers then design the furniture and the interrelation of the designs. The offices in China and Vietnam provide support for technical drawings and prototype follow-up.

In Valencia, the team meets every Monday where jobs are prioritized and delegated, typically by Georgsen who sees his role as an inspiration to the others in the company and a generator of ideas. By Georgsen’s designs carry his DNA.

“I delegate based on what I know the people are good at, where they are to practice more and what kind of jobs we have. I once read that Ralph Lauren was checking all designs before they leave the studio. I follow his example” Georgsen revealed.

Zenneth Dining Series

Osaka sofa

Elba table for in and outdoor use

Over time both Georgsen and his studio have received various awards for their good work. However to the practical designer, the biggest “award” to him is to know that there are many people around the globe that enjoy his designs on a daily basis.

As an example, Georgsen quoted the story of a table which he designed for BoConcept, a major client. For a non low-end design, the table sold more than 160,000 pieces in total worldwide. This is a huge achievement. Georgsen is also pleased to have been appointed juror by the IF designs, one of the most prestigious design awards in the world. To this, Georgsen said “All industries have this obsession about celebrating their own “members” with awards … I think we need people from the outside to judge i.e. the customers…Do they like what we are doing?”

Jersey Side Table Como Wall System
Working with quite a number of factories and distributors internationally, Georgsen’s creations are sold all around the world. He credits this to the company’s strategy and design capabilities. To name a few of his clients, he works closely with BoConcept with whom they are said to hold quite a significant part of their designs which are sold in more than 50 countries. In addition, By Georgsen has designs with majors in US and Canada like RTG, Haverty’s and Structube. In Europe, the company’s designs can be found through big ecommerce companies like Made.com and retailers such as MIO, Skeidar, MiCasa, John Lewis and many more. The company also works with Nick Scali in Australia with works also seen in South America, Japan and South East Asia through retailers such as Index Living Mall.

Recently, Georgsen has found his company a partner in Malaysia with Oeko Furniture. Oeko Furniture is credited with a huge knowledge of the production capabilities in Malaysia and through this collaboration, Georgsen has created the first line with them known as Provence. The collection was presented at the Export Furniture Exhibition (EFF) fair held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia the recent March. It garnered a second placing at the event’s design competition.

Georgsen sees a huge potential for his company working with Malaysian companies with a lot of them obviously needing a renewal. “Oeko is the right partner for us in this process as they know the factories. We hope to form a strong relationship with them to serve the Malaysian industry with world class designs that sell.” Georgsen added.

When asked for his take on the current state of design for the furniture industry, Georgsen commented that he noticed some progress. He feels that for many years there has been a gap between what the media and the “experts” considered great design and what people actually like. In his eyes, that gap is narrowing.

“The avant-garde has become more human and people in general have become more design concerned. My philosophy is to be right there where the two meet. We don’t bring Nonsense to the market and we don’t do yesterday’s news. Globalization for good and bad are making us all cater for the same things in food, cars, cloths and furniture. This means that local styles become a smaller and smaller factor in furniture. However in furniture design we get influences – globally – as well. American comfort and pampering are being accepted but in lighter versions. Japanese craftsmanship and small furniture suits the urban life with small apartments – the same for Scandinavian. Colors and crafted ideas from countries like Thailand, Peru and Morocco are mixed in and generates beautiful compositions.” Goergsen enthused.

In his quest to continue churning out good designs, Georgsen seeks to also grow his design studio to become bigger and better. In his own words, “I am looking out for a crown prince or I will merger with an existing design company. There are so many things to do in interior -and furniture design and I have established a well-known and good name in the industry so only the sky is the limit. And then I will never forget to be a good friend and a family man.” Despite his huge ambition, the successful designer remains grounded.