Architectural Elegance: The Story of Lawa Design
A search for the perfect lamp evolved into a hobby project and from there on things grew quickly for the Danish design brand Lawa Design. Since the beginning four years ago until today, they have won design awards, got international recognition and have their products sold in some of the finest design stores in Denmark, including the Louisiana Museum Shop.
In our series Scandi Chic, we explore wonderful stories about brands and people that incorporate the concept of Scandi Chic in their work. We were happy about the opportunity to talk with the two founders of Lawa Design, Ewa Bryzek and Allen Shakir, and have asked them about their passion for design, how they started their business and what the future holds for them.
Dear Ewa and Allen, how did it all start with Lawa Design?
It all started four years years ago as a hobby project. Allen needed a lamp for his living room. He didn’t know exactly what he was looking for, but it had to be special. After countless hours of searching for the perfect lamp (with no luck) he started sketching his own ideas. It didn’t take long before Ewa was on board and we starting making 3D models and prototypes. Once we had a concept, we started refining and improving the design, until one day it finally just felt “right”. The Arc Pendant was born. At this point, it did not have a name yet, but more and more people started noticing the new lamp in Allen’s living room. And all the positive comments it was getting sparked the idea of putting our “baby” into production. It was a long but also very educational journey turning an idea from a sketch on a piece of paper into a real life product with proper certification, packaging, and so on. In November 2014 we could finally present the Arc Pendant and Delta Clock - our two first products - to the world.
Lawa Design's first two products: The Arc Pendant and the Delta Clock.
All your designs have a very clear, geometric aesthetic. Did you have the product line in mind from the start?
Not really, because it all began as a hobby. We simply designed pieces that we needed in our home, and we still do. Whenever we come up with a new idea, we always ask ourselves: “Is this something we would really like to have in our own home?” If the answer is yes, the idea is approved. If it is a “maybe”, then it goes straight to the bin. There are three design principles that define all of our work. Whatever we do, it has to be: minimalistic (as simple as possible, everything in the design has to be there for a reason), practical (if its not useful, its useless), playful (we see no point in doing things that have been done before. It has to be different). We believe that the combination of those three things is what makes a design beautiful and aesthetically pleasing.
Have you ever experienced difficulties with production?
Way too often! Many things can go wrong, Even the slightest mistake in production can make a product completely useless, and it usually takes a lot of testing until you get the perfect result. But its all part of the process and you learn something valuable every time something goes wrong.
You both work as architects for renowned Danish companies. Are there any parallels in your architectural work and the work for Lawa?
We think that our architectural background is visible in Lawa Design because in many ways our products are informed by the rules of architecture, even though the scale and work process is completely different. As architects we design buildings that are hundreds or thousands of times bigger than what we draw on our computer screen, and we have to wait at least a few years to see it get built. At Lawa we design things in 1:1 and we can make prototypes in a matter of hours! That can be very liberating at times.
In general, we like using traditional and timeless colors or materials, but in an unconventional way. And that seems to have a broad appeal.
The Lawa clocks and lamps come in oak, black and white. What do your customers like the most?
Luckily, everyone is different and that goes for our customers too. While the wooden products seem to be a hit in Scandinavia, Asia - for instance - seems to be a completely different story! We recently started collaborating with a design shop in South Korea, and their customers are big fans of the white Delta Clock. In general, we like using traditional and timeless colors or materials, but in an unconventional way. And that seems to have a broad appeal.
Lawa Design's Delta Clock is made in black, white and oak.
In the last year, you have added foldable object holders to your portfolio. How long did it take you to find the perfect cut?
Finding the perfect cut is one thing. Finding a supplier that can produce it with the perfect finish is another. It is almost ready for an official release though, and we are very excited about it.
What has surprised you most in driving your creative business so far?
One of the biggest surprises was that the creative part of running a creative business actually makes up a very small part of a typical workday. It is very easy to get lost in everyday practicalities like accounting, invoices, emails, budgets, marketing, etc.
Not only do you have to learn all these things from scratch, you also have to deal with them without losing focus on what really matters and the reason why you started the business in the first place - the love for design.
One of the biggest surprises was that the creative part of running a creative business actually makes up a very small part of a typical workday. It is very easy to get lost in everyday practicalities like accounting, invoices, emails, budgets, marketing.
What is your definition for Scandi Chic?
It is something very natural and minimalistic. It can be a girl with a bun and not much make-up dressed in perfectly cut clothes or a home without many decorations but with a contrast between white walls and warmth of a wooden floor.
And since we’re talking about Scandi Chic, what other brands do you admire?
We are fans of Moebe and Lemur, design ventures also established by architects. Both brands make something completely new out of usual items like a frame or a wallet. They strip the product’s form to its very essence while adding the ‘aha’ moment.
What is up next for you and Lawa?
This spring we are taking part in SaloneSatellite, a part of the Salone del Mobile during Milano Design Week for the first time and we are planning on releasing two new products. Exciting times ahead!
Thank you so much, Ewa and Allen!
If you liked this interview, you might also like our interview with sustainable fashion designer Signe Rødbro who created the Scandinavian Chic and sustainable brand By Signe.
Interview by Mermaid Stories
Photos by Lawa Design