Kiki and Joost, Scholten & Baijings, FormaFantasma, Raw Color, BCSXY, TrulyTruly. WOTH met plenty of designer duos during its first year. After falling in love, the duos continued to inspire each other to realize the things they cared about and valued the most. Professionalism forges close bonds between creatives (even between couples that split up). Instead of being stumbling blocks, contrasts in style or cultural differences usually act as driving forces. Love and creativity know no bounds. This is also what connects Stine Gam from Denmark and Enrico Fratesi from Italy. What began as a shared interest in architecture grew until the proverbial sparks started to fly. A few months ago, we talked to the two designers at their presentation in Kvadrat's Milan showroom. For this issue, we continued our conversation with Stine Gam. 


‘We both trained as architects and that intellectual education made us aware of the differences between Italy and Denmark in terms of art history, architecture and design. We managed to keep the balance steady in this respect. We started our collaboration in 2006, pursuing a symbiosis of our cultural backgrounds. As we now see it, the Italian temperament especially comes to fruition in the conceptual phase. Every good project starts with a big, appealing idea that initiates the process and usually plays an important part during consultations with clients. We live in Copenhagen and many of our clients are Scandinavian. So functionality is more or less a basic condition. Precisely because our products are manufactured industrially, we try from the outset to inform them with as much prose or poetry as possible. I would say that in that sense, we’re inclined to get our inspiration from the visual arts. The fact that we distance ourselves from contemporary design developments may be due to the emphasis it puts on the new and on innovation, which are just about canonized. That’s not for us. 


On the other hand, we’re totally tuned in to examples of design history, as the furniture series that includes the Targa sofa, Morris chair and the Allegory desk that we designed for the Brothers Thonet Vienna in 2015 clearly demonstrates. It’s a collection that builds on the tradition of bentwood and wickerwork that is so typical of Thonet furniture from the mid-nineteenth century onward. What’s funny about Thonet is that the furniture is usually seen as a precursor of modernization because of the industrialization involved, but that to this day it takes two or sometimes even three men to manually bend the wood for the back and the seat. That’s what makes the manufacturing process sympathetic and valuable in our opinion. We never look at isolated products or design problems, but always keep the context of the people who are going to use them in mind. We try to imbue our work with intimacy. That’s what I think Thonet furniture does, too: it embraces you. I think that form of communication is important to make people love and appreciate a product. It’s what makes it last, too. Any product ought to be more than just another object. 


My Scandinavian roots kick in when I’m choosing combinations of materials and paying attention to product functionality. I think the Danish sense of quality is very close to the Italian sense of intellectual content. The execution of the masks for the Kvadrat presentation during the Salone del Mobile is a case in point. They asked us to do something with the new colours of the Canvas and Steelcut Trio fabrics. We came up with our own interpretations of iconic masks. They are archetypes in which people recognize African, South American or ancient Greek masks. We not only chose the mask as a theme for their smart basic shape, but also because upholstery can be seen as the mask of furniture. Material and colour determine the personality of a chair or sofa and can sometimes drastically change people’s experience of a piece of furniture. Of course it’s also possible to understand the choice of masks as carriers of the presentation symbolically and then our intellectual orientation comes in handy. Masks are ritual, ceremonial objects that carry different substantive messages, but they can simply decorate a wall as well, or communicate emotions such as anger or happiness during a theatre performance. Our main goal was to highlight the aesthetic experience of textile. Because of all of that content, visitors can interpret to their heart’s desire. That’s the importance of a good story.’ 

This interview was published in WOTH No7. This issue is still available in english via Bruil & van der Staaij. Or get a subscription here! 

Dutch versions of WOTH you can be ordered in our shop and an NL subscription is available here.

GamFratesi Kvadrat 2017 01 finalcut vertical low Photo credit Tuala Hjarno
GamFratesi x Kvadrat x IMM Cologne
GamFratesi Kvadrat 2017 02 low Photo credit Tuala Hjarno
GamFratesi x Kvadrat 2018
KV GamFratesi inspiration