MEET ISELIN LINDMARK DUBLAND // THE NORWEGIAN BEHIND BIRK COFFEE TABLE

You might have heard of her, well at least if you are interested in furniture design and follow the famous design blog Design Milk. Earlier this year they did a feature about one of her designs; the BIRK coffee table which she debuted at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2016 ( >> read their post here)

Well, I thought it would be a great idea to learn more about her and to get her to give us a couple of interior tips seeing she is also a great stylist.

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BIO: Iselin Lindmark Dubland was born and raised in Sandnes, Norway and moved to Bergen in 2009 to study interior at the Norwegian Creative School. Alongside the studies she worked at an interior store called Bolia, a Scandinavian furniture & home accessories brand. While working there her passion for styling grew; after spending 3 years studying furniture design and interior architecture at the Bergen Academy of Art & Design she is just about to start her Master. She also works as an interior stylist for Heem – what a dream job!

Q1 // What inspires you in your design process?

I would say it’s a combination of different elements, as I often work on the basis of a given situation and / or users experience. I like to keep myself updated and get general inspiration using Pinterest and Instagram, and I regularly check Dezeen.com which writes about everything from architecture, interiors to design. One of my biggest inspirations is my mobile camera, which I use to capture moments and all kinds of situations. Otherwise, I gain a lot from working together with other designers, the ability to use each other as “sparring partners” is something I find incredibly important. Then you can build on each other’s ideas, as it is rare that you will sit there alone with every answer.

A big inspiration in my time as a student has been fields trips. With my school we have traveled to Ålesund to gain insight into the furniture industry in western Norway, visited Stockholm Furniture Fair and been in London during the London Design Week 2015. A project I was very intrigued by when I visited LDW was the project of the Swedish designer Kristina Schultz “100 days of need and greed”. She had emptied out her families home with a goal that they themselves should make the things they really wanted as and when they needed them, discovering along the way which objects they found essential in their life. This resulted in a very tactile, handmade and functional collection, including cutlery, dining tables, stools and toys for her daughter.

Q2 // In what way does your Scandinavian heritage affect your style?

I am quite influenced by the Scandinavian style, with its natural elements and clean lines. I think us Scandinavians have gained a lot of inspiration from the traditional cottage life, a somewhat simple style with natural materials and closeness to nature. I love the use of materials and design expression from the Scandinavian 60’s design, and admire classic designers from this period like Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, Torbjørn Afdal and Alf Sture to name a few.

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Q3 // Is there any particular Scandinavian designers & brands you like?

The Scandinavian brands I’m very fond of are Muuto, Hay and Normann Copenhagen, I think they make good, accessible design at a reasonable price with “typical” Scandinavian style. When it comes to Norwegian designers my favourites are Andersen & Voll, Andreas Engesvik, Silje Nesdal, Daniel Rybakken and Vera & Kyte. Andersen & Voll are very versatile and work with both furniture design and interior, they have also developed fabrics for textile giant FEBRIKS. Daniel Rybakken stock incredibly exciting light sources, blurring out the lines between art and design in a nice way. While Vera & Kyte makes simple and playful objects that I fall for every time they launch a new product.

Q4 // You are currently working as an interior stylist, can you tell us more about what this means and how you started?

Interior styling was something I came across from a friend of mine who I worked with at Bolia. Her name is Cathrine Bækken, and she is the founder of the company Heem that I now work for. She is incredibly talented and I’m so glad that she wanted me to join her! We had previously done a lot of styling jobs together at Bolia, and therefore knew we would work well together. This summer I have been working with her styling a lot of beautiful properties around Bergen. We work exclusively for the Bergen section of EiE (which is a real estate agency), and closely with the photographers. This is great because we get to be a part of the whole process, making sure the houses look their best before the trading begins! Our photographers only uses daylight when they shoot to get a natural result, we are lucky to have the lovely Nordic daylight to work with!

It’s so exciting to work with so many different homes, some a bit soulless and “standard” and others older and venerable. The best senario is when we find lots of items owned by the customer that we can work with, it enables us to create more unique styles and get exciting results that showcases the property in the best possible way.

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One of my favorite projects was a detached house lying just below Fløyfjellet in Bergen, with three floors full of beautiful, old furnitures and art. Here it was a matter of simply “just” cleaning the rooms and moving items around, and we had a great time doing so. It was like being on a treasure hunt full of vintage finds.

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Q5 // What do you think is most important to think about when styling your own home? Any personal tips and smart solutions?

I think the key is to focus on personal style and not just do what everyone else is doing by using certain items and things that matter to you. For me this is my grandfather’s old sketches and a Kay Bojesen wooden monkey toy which I inherited from him. The monkey used to hang on the lamp in his living room when I was a little girl so it reminds me of him. He was a Danish artist and very fond of Nordic design, so I like to think that my creativity and love for Nordic design stems from him.

For me it is incredibly important with smart solutions and hidden storage, maybe because I live in a very small apartment but also because I’m not fond of clutter and “visual noise”. In my home all nooks are utilised in the best possible way, and the furnishings are as flexible as possible. I love functional things, and living on a smaller surface has made me very selective about what I really need and what is allowed to be a part of my living space.

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Q6 // Any new and exciting furniture & interior trends?

We are a little bit tired of the technological life, and the constant strive to be “online” all the time. Because of this we will continue to see handmade products, and very tactile products that are a great contrast to the smooth screens we constantly have in our hand. I also think people want to own unique products that are of higher quality, such as for example handmade ceramics. Just look at IKEA who now has begun to launch “limited edition” collections as a result of cooperations with renowned designers such as Ilse Crawford, HAY and Tom Dixon. I find it exciting when good design becomes accessible to everyone, not to mention that good design doesn’t always need not cost an arm and a leg.. Other than that I’m also loving the fact that people now seem to dare to use more colours, a trend I hope will last!

Q7 // You designed several great products while studying. Tell us more about the ideas behind BIRK and TRI.

TRI was a lamp I made my first year at the academy. I wanted to create a lamp that reflected light and could be used to create a certain mood. Two of the angled surfaces of the light are shorter than the back part, resulting in more light coming through. At the same time the light is reflected beautifully from the larger, white surface.

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When it comes to the coffee table BIRK that I designed for the furniture fair in Stockholm, I based this on how you use a coffee table. To do research I got friends and acquaintances to send me pictures of their coffee tables, doing this I found a big everyday problem that many may not think about; – Where do you put the remote? The iPad? Your favourite lipstick or magazines that you would like to have nearby? From there I worked on how to create a coffee table with hidden storage for everything you need to keep close to the couch. After numerous sketches and models where I worked with the form and function of the storage part, the result was BIRK.

Through the research phase, I found out that most objects we usually keep on a coffee table are low, and therefore it doesn’t need a particularly high storage space. Because of this discovery the storage room itself is only 8 cm high. It is an integral part of the coffee table, and has a plate that is pushed to reach into it. The plate can be separated from the coffee table so you can easily clean it, or you can use it as a serving tray or on the couch to put your PC or other things on. I wanted the table to have a simple expression, the legs are therefore made to look like the “body” is just sitting right down on it without any effort.

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Q8 // What is That Scandinavian Feeling to you?

That Scandinavian Feeling for me is when I’m at the cottage and live a “slow life”, in front of the fireplace and wrapped up in woollen clothes, with a good mug of tea and an interior magazine. When the rain is pouring down outside and you hear the wind beat the rain the against the window while there is a crackling sound from in the fireplace. THAT’S when I have That Scandinavian Feeling!

// Photo credit: Dag Sverre Randen & Sofie Brovold

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MEET ISELIN LINDMARK DUBLAND // THE NORWEGIAN BEHIND BIRK COFFEE TABLE was last modified: February 28th, 2017 by Ingrid Opstad