Copenhagen-based Norwegian furniture designer Martin Solem was inspired by classic Danish design and began working as an intern for one of the oldest surviving Danish cabinet makers, Rud. Rasmussen in 2005. He undertook an MA at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2007, but has always been working with Norwegian materials and his Norwegian presence.
Since 2011, Solem has worked as a full-time designer at HAY Studio in Copenhagen, while pursuing solo projects and collaborations with international brands such as Cappellini and Bernhardt Design. Every year since 2015, he has appeared with Norway in Milan, and he received the Young Talent Award from the Norwegian Design Council in 2015.
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Many solo projects
A full-time designer at HAY design studio in Copenhagen, Solem also continues working on various solo projects. He is for example also doing textile projects taking the idea of ‘traces’ as its starting point, using ancient, naturally occurring Norwegian materials and digitally transforming them into new patterns. His first textile designs were inspired by Norwegian Larvikite – particularly its formation millions of years ago from the melting and mingling of different minerals miles below the surface, and the way that its monochrome appearance from a distance reveals more complex color tones close up.
In his work, which strives to introduce progressive elements alongside established design tradition, he places usefulness and realism at the forefront, and as a result he has exhibited broadly, in cities including Cologne, London, Milan, New York, Paris, Oslo and Stockholm.
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An innovative designer
Last year, Solum explored the idea of using the strength of molded-wood veneer material to create innovative, light and strong constructive furniture profiles and 100% Norway exhibited a table Martin designed for the project; built using a low-cost production process to enable it to be produced cheaply and efficiently.
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Martin Solem describes his work: “I try to always be innovative, for me a product has to be realistic and useful to be considered a good design. What I try to accomplish is to combine these fundamental thoughts with innovative design.”
Norwegian Materials – Norwegian Presence, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): Martin Solem’s Urban shelter / The Italian Lab