Our story

Our design careers began in a very specialized design field. Already in her student days, Karen developed a special interest in “inclusive design”, or multi-generational design, which let her to win the Royal Society’s student award entitled “Designing for our future selves”. David developed his interest in inclusive design with his first job at Hvidt International where he, together with Karen, worked as in-house designer with upholstered furniture for people with disabilities and furniture for the rehab sector in general. The designs focused on functionality, ergonomics and user-centered design.

Inclusive design Hvidt International
Inclusive design, Hvidt International

In 2001, we created Nordicbydesign, our first freelance company. With Nordicbydesign, we introduced a different approach to our work. Our designs should touch more on peoples emotional needs, adding beauty and aesthetics to human lives.

Nordicbydesign operated a few years in Denmark when suddenly we were recruited to work for one of the biggest global out-door furniture companies located in southern Vietnam. This was our first experience with production on a global scale in a developing country.

Having gained valuable experience from our jobs in Vietnam, we decided it was time to restart Nordicbydesign and in 2007, we started out as freelance designers in Asia. We worked with many Asian furniture companies to manufacture our designs and discovered that very few companies had an understanding of wood and experience with contemporary furniture.The Asian woodworking tradition is different to the Western, resulting in quality issues and waste of raw material (imported woods).

Freelance design Nordicbydesign in Vietnam
Freelance design – Nordicbydesign in Vietnam

Traditionally, Asian people use bamboo for furniture and household goods. Processing of bamboo into furniture is not something we ever came across in Europe and this opened our eyes for a completely new world of possibilities.

In the west, the image of bamboo furniture was that of cheap, disposable supermarket goods. Our vision was, through design and marketing, to change that image by creating timeless, high quality bamboo designs in the Danish style that could compete with wooden furniture. Designs that would stand the test of time and inspire consumers to cherish and keep the furniture.

We started to look for manufacturers of bamboo furniture and found that the traditional bamboo manufacturers in Vietnam had very low-tech production equipment, so is was only possible to make the traditional colonial style bamboo furniture.

Our vision came to life when we found a small bamboo company with a different outlook just outside Ho Chi Minh City, employing highly skilled workers and with willingness to try something new. That was a magic moment. We had already fallen in love with bamboo and could see the endless undiscovered design possibilities. The small company was up for sale and together with a local partner we bought it. Suddenly we had our own little company in a far-away country with a staff of fifteen.

Bamboo production in Vietnam
Bamboo production in Vietnam

With bamboo, we had found a material the Vietnamese are very, very good at processing. We learned everything we know about bamboo from them. All the issues we had with the wooden furniture was no problem with the bamboo.
Our work experience in Vietnam and Denmark let us to define the following vision for our work as designers:

Natural resources should be processed as close to their natural habitat as possible. This will lift local skills from a mere handicraft to a more commercial level and the value added in terms of knowledge and profit will benefit the local people. This will encourage a sustainable development and protect the quality of the environment in any country.
In 2015 the production was running smoothly and we decided it was time to relocate Nordicbydesign to Denmark in order to be closer to our marked and follow the latest trends.

We still produce the bamboo furniture in Vietnam under the name Satz Furniture. Today Satz Furniture has a close co-operation with an American bamboo company in Vietnam that looks after the production. See more http://www.satzfurniture.com

We now live & work in Copenhagen and use our experience from both Denmark and Vietnam to help our clients develop new products. With climate changes right on our doorstep, our vision is more relevant than ever before.