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Modern loft conversion: Viking Pencil Factory Loft in Copenhagen

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The Viking Pencil Factory Loft is a converted loft by industrial designer Morten Bo Jensen, the chief designer at Vipp and his partner, graphic designer Kristina May Olsen, located in Islands Brygge, a harbourfront area in central Copenhagen, Denmark. The couple lives here with their 5-years old twins, a New-York style loft completely restored from its original state as an old Viking-Pencil factory from the 1900’s. One key element that drew the couple to the flat was its proximity to the river. To capitalize on the expansive views over the harbor and into the historic city center, the couple plans to construct a second floor of living space on the roof: 320 square feet for a master suite and an additional 1,600 for a garden. It took a bit of luck and a lot of patience to find an urban flat the size of a surburban house.

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The Process:“The apartment was stripped to the bone; I spent a great deal of time reflecting on how I want to live. My conclusion was quite simple; function and efficiency must be the starting point, both in the architecture, the interior and in the location. I am close to work, and the city. Being located here, I can minimize transport, use the city and thereby optimize my daily life with the family” – Morten.

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The interior: “I feel fortunate to be living with furniture that I have designed myself. I have installed the Vipp kitchen island supplemented by 3 high cabinets that matches my old Vipp kitchen bin. The bathroom furniture as well as the accessories are also Vipp.

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When my profession is working with design DNA, I enjoy living in a space that is functionally and visually cohesive. It embodies a certain visual calm and daily efficiency. Living in your own design is a confirmation of how you work and which choices you make professionally. At Vipp I work with a DNA that personally reflects my style and what works for me. Being surrounded by these values and using the products everyday is legitimizing why product design must start with function. That is why I don’t have three different sofa arrangements but only one. I surround myself with things that are meant to be used, which only embraces the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ (cosiness)” – Morten.

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The Tools: “When designing a new product, we consider it both before, during and after as a tool that will be used to produce or accomplish something – a tool that must have a long life and where the feeling of quality and product eligibility shall be loved each and every time it is used. With this approach we believe that we use our experience and expertise to maximize value for our customers. It gives me a daily pleasure to be surrounded by tools that work. It is a key source of inspiration in my work.” – Morten

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The Optimization of Space: The sense of living in an open space is reinforces by the big inflow of light, the sliding doors and the long Dinesen wooden planks crossing the entire main room. The room is a result of our reflections on how to optimize space most effectively. “This explains why we have chosen only sliding doors, a build-in space for fire wood, an integrated book case, closets and cabinets. In this way we liberate a lot of floor space which opens up the room.” – Morten

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Jensen and Olsen installed Dinesen Douglas fir plank flooring (known for its wide, long proportions that suit large spaces); they finished it with lye and a “whole lot of white pigment” so that the floor would meld seamlessly with the matte white (courtesy of Danish paint line Flügger) of the walls. And though the space is still loftlike, Forbo linoleum–covered sliding doors throughout ensure a little more privacy than the couple’s previous, even more minimalist abode.

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The carbon-colored kitchen, produced by Vipp, is one of Jensen’s first major designs for the company, which is known for its retro-modern, industrial metal bins. (Jensen also has designed a line of bathroom accessories and kitchen tools that figure into the loft’s decor.) The cabinets are powder-coated with a textured, tactile finish, and the wall storage units are built with sliding doors to hide appliances and technical systems. Like most Danish residents, the family cooks almost every meal.

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The Details: The Pencil Art piece – ads color and texture to the space based on reminiscences of the product that was once produced in the building. The work desk – made of hundreds of cardboard pieces. The book shelf wall – fully integrated floor-to-ceiling & wall-to-wall, adds cosines to the entire living space. The cabinet/plant installation – works as soft space-divider and ads something organic to the urban space. The firewood rack – practical storage of firewood for the winter time – helps to densify the large living space. The floor-to-ceiling sliding doors – built on spot due to the sizes – allows for a large flow of light & permits an almost entirely open space.

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Photos: Vipp & Anders Hviid

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