The concepts of simplicity, practicality and clean lines are brought together in the work of almost all designers who embrace the aesthetics of what we broadly refer to as “Nordic”. Martin Høgh Olsen is one of these names who we have recently discovered, who caught our attention due to his influence from these sources, and the fact that he works in close collaboration with local artisans. Since he graduated, his own studio offers numerous products that cover all types of disciplines, such as lighting, furniture and product design.

His brand and work philosophy are focused, in his own words, towards two very specific destinations: on the one hand, he wants to be able to manufacture and distribute his own work, in which aspects such as good proportions, clean lines, quality and the colour of materials are essential. He also wants to incorporate through his brand unique elements made by designers outside of the style or canon of Norwegian design.

The Brick collection desk cabinets.

Secondly, Martin wants to try and discover what happens when the creative process begins from other disciplines, such as architecture or fashion design, because there is currently a vibrant creative scene in many fields and directions.

The designer in his work studio.

1. ¿What are the essential values of your brand to position yourself as an independent producer?
There are some really good Norwegian manufactures out there, not many, but a handful. I don’t compare my self to any of them, and don’t intend to set a benchmark. But good form, high material quality and longevity is a high priority to all of my products.

2. ¿Is it difficult to sell yourself as a brand or as a producer?
It really hasn’t been that difficult. I believe that when you work thoroughly enough, and your ideas are original and well thought through, after a while, it sort of gets on its feet by it self. Anyway, I’m still in the early faces of this, so I probably will meet a lot of challenges I didn’t see coming.

3. ¿What do quality and design mean to your work?
They are two concepts which in my case are inseparable.

Bed day Tid and detail of materials finishing.

4. ¿Do you have a preference for any particular material when it comes to one design or other?
I have become more of a wood-person, working mainly with oak and walnut. I share workshop with my father, who was a student of Finn Juhl in Copenhagen back in the 60s/70s, and he continues to teach and inspire me. I’m also drawn towards aluminum at the moment, where Norway is a major producer.

5. ¿Which part of your job do you find most interesting?
The sketch book part is my favorite. As well as working with the color scheme. The least fun part has to be the economics side of running a company.

6. ¿How do you approach each project organisationally?
I work more and more in my head. Getting more cerebral about it as I get older. Adjusting measurements and colour in my mind all the time, along side a physical sketch face, before spending a lot of time making good 3D models and ultimately a mock up.

Auxiliary Kana table, finished in aluminium.
Format Light lamp, in a welded steel plate.

7. ¿Do you find it easy to recognise your work? Is there any one thing that helps to define it?
Always follow the progress of work in which I have researched. I guess part of my desire to challenge, to question constantly and to learn.

8. ¿Do your projects all share a common language?
No I don’t think my work is. I’m definitely Northern European in what I do. Which is where I typically find my values and inspiration. But within that realm I feel like an independent articulating my own way through. A formal recognition may lead to some new opportunities, so yes.

9. ¿Who is the next in your projects?
Next out is a lamp done by the Norwegian Architects Transborder Studio, which I’m very exited about. After that the launch of a very clean set of shelves called KEY. Both will be ready this fall.

Pottery project from Space Capsules collection.


Photos: Martin Høgh Studio / Portrait: ©Lena Knutli.

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