ÖRN DUVALD IS A CROSS-DISCIPLINARY DESIGN STUDIO, FOUNDED IN 2012 BY ICELANDER PÉTUR ÖRN EYJÓLFSSON, AND DANE SØREN OSKAR DUVALD. TOGETHER THEY EXPLORE THE CROSSROADS OF ARCHITECTURE, ART AND DESIGN, WITH CRAFTSMANSHIP AND TACTILITY AS CORE VALUES.
The pair self-identify as introverts, which finds its own way into their work. “We’re quiet people and it shows in our designs, which aren’t that loud,” muses Søren. “Often our process starts small — with a material, or a detail — and from these elements, we start to draw the object.”
ÖRN DUVALD’s aim is to create products which are artistic yet timeless; classic but functional. While their approach is minimalist, they are endlessly detail driven, and their work is first and foremost motivated by inquisitiveness. “Our end goal is based on curiosity,” explains Pétur. “It's always stunning to see something unfold, just by working step-by-step, layer by layer.”
While both were born in Denmark, Pétur’s Icelandic parents moved him to Reykjavik early on. Søren grew up in the bucolic surrounds of Jutland, where he learnt to work with his hands from a young age. “I spent a lot of time on my grandfather's farm, and many nights in his wood workshop doing carpentry and building small ships to sail across the pond.”
He originally studied classical piano, but found that life too restrictive and moved onto bio-technology to use his mind in a different way. “It was a big detour, but these studies created a nice foundation — because as an artist, you have to use more than one side of your brain.”
“When we’re creating something, we talk a lot about the feeling of it. The fact there are two of us and we speak to each other will have an effect on the final piece.”
Pétur’s father was an architect, which originally put him off the profession, as it appeared too controlled. So he pursued a photography degree before crossing over. “I studied photography because I was searching for a visual way of working but when I got older, I learnt to see architecture in a new light as well as what it was capable of.”
Everyday life and commonplace objects inspire their work, which spans from spatial design to lighting and furniture. This cross-disciplinary approach is a result of the existing link and shared community between KADK and the Academy of Fine Arts. “When you’re studying in Copenhagen, you have the opportunity to look upon architecture without rules,” Søren elaborates. “Myself and Pétur went to the most radical department, which was more about drawing and giving shape to things, and less concerned with scale or how thick should a beam be.”
Being cross-disciplinary appeals to them for multitude of reasons — from control to creativity. “Working like this means we can be involved in the whole process from sketch to final product,” Søren explains. “But we also enjoy the small-scale, sculptural aspect of it; that you can hold it and touch it.”
During their studies, the two friends were drawn into a collaboration with a teacher who was developing a community art project, and soon realised they had ideas which rhymed. “The project was really fun but it also opened up our discussions,” recalls Pétur, “It had so many layers; working on models, discussing compositions. That’s when we started thinking we could do something together on the side.”
“We are quite naïve when approaching new material, and often make mistakes — but sometimes it’s a nice mistake.”
Both prefer to create collaboratively, and agree their work is stronger for it. “The ping-pong aspect of working together is important for our practice. When we’re creating something, we talk a lot about the feeling of it. The fact there are two of us and we speak to each other will have an effect on the final piece.”
While woodworking is their cornerstone, they are always looking to experiment with new materials — such as with their colored rubber IO Light, which is a contemporary investigation into light and translucency, as well as geometry and scale. “It’s both good and bad that we’re architects and have not been taught as designers,” explains Søren. “Designers know a lot about certain materials, and how to use them, whereas we are quite naïve when approaching new material, and often make mistakes — but sometimes it’s a nice mistake.”
"Our end goal is based on curiosity."