Q&A with Camilla Vest from Skagerak
To gather a deeper and more intimate connection with the artisans we work with and the agents that represent them, we asked each to answer a series of questions. We will be showcasing each Q&A in correlation with our familial content. Enjoy!
x Shop Zung
Without giving away your location, describe where you are right now. What are the things you see, smell, or hear around you?
I’m sitting on my Skagerak Virkelyst lounge sofa enjoying my morning coffee ( a ritual ) and grateful for nature in our backyard. Trees, flowers, birds and sunlight.
Taste, touch, smell, sound, sight — which of the five senses do you rely on the most? Why?
It’s difficult to pick one as I am a big fan of exploring different foods but if I had to choose I would probably say sight - I’m a very visual person and I’m very drawn to and inspired by the impressions around me.
Tell us a little more about Skagerak and how you work with the brand in the US?
On a daily basis I lead the Skagerak team in North America, where we are responsible for growing the presence of the brand in the US and Canada. This of course means product sales but just as important is brand communication which means we work on many different levels: We carefully select retail partners and build strong relationships with interior designers and architects whilst also curating photoshoots, staging projects, organizing design talks and collaborative events.
The Skagerak brand with its focus on minimal, functional and sustainable design has so much untapped potential and it is therefore very exciting for us to be on this journey where we are in charge of communicating their story to a modern audience who are very demanding in terms of what they put in their homes. They are not just looking for brands that create beautiful designs, but brands that are thoughtful in relation to their actions, and Skagerak is one of these brands and this makes their designs meaningful.
Tell us about your relationship to Studio Zung. To begin, when and where did your relationship with our Studio start? What drew you to working with us?
I met Tommy around 3 years ago and we immediately clicked as we had a lot of shared interests, common friends, and professionally it was a great fit as Tommy has always been very drawn to Scandinavian design and we have always been big fans of the Studio Zung aesthetic and philosophy. From the very beginning we have worked with Studio Zung on many different levels - both on a retail level where Shop Zung carries the Skagerak products in their Soho location and website, but we have also worked together on furniture sourcing for one of the Studio Zung’s Atelier projects and collaborated on events and installations.
How has this relationship evolved over time? Could you describe one of your favorite moments or projects working with our Studio?
I think the event we hosted together in September 2019 was one of our favorites. It was a magazine launch for Ark Journal, a new Copenhagen based Interior magazine, hosted at Shop Zung which was transformed into an installation space filled with Skagerak pieces and ceramic sculptures by Simone Bodmer Turner, curated by Ark Journal’s stylist Pernille Vest. The turnout was amazing for the event, the atmosphere was great as the collaborative spirit was so strong. We also had many visitors come see the installation and purchase the magazine the following week.
We want to know more about Skagerak’s creative process, walk us through it. How do you choose the collaborators and designers you work with? How do you begin your projects? Do you anchor it with an image, a material, color, feeling? How do you come to a stopping point and know your work is complete, if you ever think so?
On a product level, it is very much the creative team in Copenhagen who work closely with both established and up and coming designers in creating new collections. We do have a close dialogue with Skagerak’s creative director in relation to trends and developments in our market however. In terms of the creative projects we work on, it’s always a question of aesthetic fit and philosophy. We like working with like-minded collaborators, like Studio Zung, who value both the minimal aesthetic but also the quality and sustainability aspect that is inherent in each product. When working on visual assets and photoshoots for Skagerak, we always choose to work with photographers and stylists who are good at capturing the nordic mood and lighting, as it's important to how the Skagerak brand is communicated visually.
The Aldus Table and Georg Jubilee Stool at the Skagerak showroom
How would you describe your work? How do other people describe your work?
I would say minimal, functional yet playful. I definitely think those around me would describe me as a minimalist - and then I hope they would say I have a strong emphasis on quality and detail as well.
What is your favorite object or piece of furniture from Skagerak? What about one from a different designer?
That’s a tough call, I have many favorites from Skagerak! I try to balance my home with pieces that are minimal, classic yet very practical. I like my home to be functional even though it’s full of design goodees.
One of my favorites is our Aldus Dining Table designed by the talented Chris Halstrøm for Skagerak - I actually use our’s as a larger desk for our Skagerak team and if I’m allowed to squeeze in one more favorite on the list it’s our Maissi Bench in untreated oak designed by Studio Kaksikko - to me it’s like having an art piece in my hallway!
Camilla at Studio Zung on the Maissi Bench
I have also always admired the work of designer Michael Anastassiades - I purchased the Tube Chandelier almost 10 years ago and it is still my favorite lamp hanging above our dining table.
Think of an object in your home that has the most significance to you. Could you share with us what it is and the memory behind it?
I would have to say it is my two PK 22 wicker chairs - I bought them when I was 18 years old from Kjærholm’s son Thomas right outside Copenhagen. I think he was pretty impressed that I was so young when I began investing Danish classics and we still have contact today. They are very special to me as they have followed me on my journey moving from Copenhagen to New York and lived in many different places. They always fit right into a new home whether the style is a modern Tribeca loft or a classic Brooklyn townhouse.
PK Wicker chairs in the living room of Camilla's home
We live in a society where so much of our identity is surrounded by the things we consume whether that be the things we buy, the food we eat, or the content we see, along with the fast paced nature of it. How do you approach mindful living and sustainability in the context of your work and in your everyday life?
Working with a brand that is B Corp and whose focus on responsible production across the entire supply chain is an inherent part of their DNA, is both inspiring and motivating for me. I have learnt a lot about sustainability through my work with Skagerak and part of our mission is also to educate our audience about these practices - i.e. sustainable wood sourcing and just the overall premise of investing in pieces that will last for many years to come. On the same note, I’m also very inspired by my daughter and her generation's attitude to sustainability when it comes to fashion. She and her friends only buy second hand clothing and I have to admit it has made me rethink my purchases to ensure that I only buy pieces that I know I will really use.
What do you envision for your brand in five years?
In Denmark Skagerak is well known for long lasting, high quality furniture, and you will almost find a Skagerak piece in every home. I don’t expect the same to happen in the US within 5 years, but I do expect we will have a much larger audience based on the demand we have seen so far. What I do hope however is that everyone who owns a Skagerak piece will continue to appreciate and value its unique design, quality and durability not only in 5 years, but in many years to come and see it as an investment like I did with my PK 22 wicker chairs many years ago.
A still moment from Skagerak's showroom
What do you want people to take away from your brand? How do you want to be remembered? What is the legacy you imagine for Skagerak?
Products that are made with an appreciation of the simple and subtle using carefully chosen materials. On a larger scale I would say to remember a brand that operated with purpose in everything they did and in this process created both meaningful and sustainable designs. In this way we hope the Skagerak designs can become icons in the same way as some of the older, more classic danish designs like Hans Wegner's chairs or Poul Henningsen’s lamps.
Are you looking forward to anything in the next few months? Any new exciting projects or plans?
Personally I am excited to be heading to Denmark with my family for our summer vacation this month where I will look forward to visiting museums like Louisiana and hopefully check out some galleries and installations as well.
Proffesionally we have many projects in the pipeline for Skagerak which we are excited about - especially now with vaccinations going well it seems like it will be possible to actually host events and work more collaboratively once again. In the short term we have a few photo shoots coming up too, one here in New York and one in LA - it’s always a pleasure to work with different creative teams in different settings and we love the playfulness aspect of photoshoots that allows us to be creative and strategic at once.
Photo courtesy of Pernille Loof and Kate Sears