The story of Københavns Møbelsnedkeri sounds improbably romantic. Handsome musician Kim Dolva moves on from making his own guitars to form a craft-furniture collective based in an old-school factory in central Copenhagen. Based around the idea of harnessing and re-energising the heritage of artisan Danish design, the 20-strong group of creatives gather oak from local woods, fume it themselves to give it the right smoky shade, then use classic workshop machinery, much of it hand-operated, to create contemporary-classic pieces of furniture. Ten years on and just one of the founding members has left this surrogate family, who eat lunch together most days.
The bespoke work by Københavns Møbelsnedkeri (which translates as Copenhagen Joinery, or KBH for short) has included smooth, curvy timber chairs and dining tables for cultish Copenhagen restaurants such as Relae (second picture) and Noma, as well as numerous private commissions (from £1,000 to more than £100,000) – covering everything from kitchens to pendant lamps – often in partnership with other international design studios and architects. The interior of hotelier Daniel Levy’s London home, for example, was created in collaboration with Tom Dixon studio, as was the London home of an English wine producer – a scheme that was based around a KBH-designed wine-tasting table designed to seat 14, with drawers, holders and sections for wine bottles, glasses and tasting ephemera.
Bespoke items of furniture, says Dolva, often lead to larger-scale commissions, such as kitchens (often with beautiful brass inset handles and full-grained knotted oak, example in first picture), or full interior kit-outs, including wardrobes, bathroom interiors and cabinetry. But the Copenhagen studio, which also has an engineering section as well as a metalworker, says they can turn their hand to anything. A six-storey home in Copenhagen, for example, was recently refitted to incorporate a kitchen at the top of the building (“where the best light was”) and an elaborate elevator system to make carrying groceries to the top obsolete.
“There are loads of lifts we could have used,” says Dolva, “but we wanted to build it all out of wood. It’s a little bit crazy; part of the shaft was made of oak. At first the elevator specialist who carried out the commission with us said it was too expensive to create, but these are the kind of things we like to do.”
For international projects, one member of the team conducts an initial recce, before later taking more of the team over to complete the work. And there are off-the-peg KBH offerings, too, including a sofa created in collaboration with Milanese fabric and wallpaper company Dedar, and a brand-new collection (third picture) of solid wooden furniture and metal lighting, launched today. The New Classics designs, such as a round oak dining table (€6,100) and accompanying chairs (€875 each), can now be ordered via Staffan Tollgård in the UK.