Fine lines: Kristine Norlander’s vision of the Lassens’ modernist architecture

Collection of graphic images of their buildings
The Danish furniture company By Lassen is celebrating the architectural legacy of Flemming and Mogens Lassen with a collection of graphic images of their buildings, shot by Norwegian
(Image credit: Kristine Norlander)

The Copenhagen-based brand By Lassen is full of historical stories. Founded by Nadia Lassen in 2008, she was inspired to start her venture with the 1962 'Kubus' candleholder design by her late great grandfather, architect Mogens Lassen. The Danish furniture company is now embracing its legacy and bringing it into present day by re-appropriating its work with a distinctly 21st century aesthetic. To wit, By Lassen has enlisted artist Kristine Norlander to produce a series of graphic photographs of its buildings, shot entirely on an iPhone, for a contemporary exploration of its architectural oeuvre.

Looking back to the 1930s and 40s, when brothers Mogens and Flemming Lassen helped pioneer architectural modernism, Norwegian photographer Norlander has applied her distinct style and technique - impactful monochrome pictures captured on her phone - to encapsulate the fine details of four of the brothers' architectural masterpieces.

In a series of photographs called Funkis - the shortened name given to architectural functionalism - she focuses on geometrical shapes, creating a story from the pair's minimalist style in shaded grey hues. In the image of Søllerød City Hall, which Flemming designed with architect Arne Jacobsen, she displays a magnified view of the multiple windows which punctuate the listed concrete building. Norlander's vision is both intimate and ominous, the windows darkened so we can only view the eerie lines of the curtains in the room.

In contrast, a lighter landscape picture was created of Mogens' single-family home in Bakkedal, Hellerup, a little north of Copenhagen. Focusing on the curvaceous quality of the Bauhaus-inspired structure, the image hones in on the edge of the building, in a darker shade of grey. Fine vertical lines are also the centrepiece of an image of an office building in western Copenhagen, on Rødovrevej, which embraces the multiple skinny archways of the white washed form, again through the use of natural shade. 'The way the light falls,' Norlander explains, 'is essential to obtaining a good image.' Much of Norlander's striking work can be located on Instagram.

The Norwegian is not the only artist to have channelled the essence of the Lassen brothers' works – Danish designer Kristina Dam has previously reinterpreted the modernist works in painting. Her alternative vision creates a story using colour, showing the entire buildings in all their robust glory.

Magnified the listed building's windows

The infamous Søllerød City Hall is shown here, created by Flemming with his friend Arne Jacobsen. Norlander has magnified the listed building's windows, focusing on the ominously darkened spaces behind

(Image credit: Kristine Norlander)

Made prominent in dark grey

In her shot of Mogen's single family home in Bakkedal, Hellerup, north of Copenhagen, Norlander picks out the curves of the building, made prominent in dark grey

(Image credit: Kristine Norlander)

Image of the Mogens' family home in Bakkedal

The original image of the Mogens' family home in Bakkedal, Hellerup. Norlander has focused on the curvaceous top extension of the building for her image

(Image credit: Kristine Norlander)

Image of a white washed building

This image of a building west of Copenhagen on Rødovrevej embraces the multiple skinny archways of the white washed building, again through the natural shade

(Image credit: Kristine Norlander)

Images of building on Rodovrevej

The original picture that Norlander took to inspire her vision of the building on Rødovrevej

(Image credit: Kristine Norlander)

Angular and textured picture that it is constructed in concrete

The owners of this north Copenhagen house wanted to stay discreet about the building's appearance, but this angular and textured picture suggests that it is constructed in concrete

(Image credit: Kristine Norlander)

Image of modernist works in paintings

Danish designer Kristina Dam has also previously interpreted the modernist works in paintings (pictured)

(Image credit: Kristine Norlander)

Dam's alternative vision

Dam's alternative vision creates a story using colour, showing the entire buildings in all their shapely glory

(Image credit: Kristine Norlander)

Another textured angle of the north Copenhagen building

Norlander's 'Funkis' prints will be available from September from By Lassen. Pictured: another textured angle of the north Copenhagen building

(Image credit: Kristine Norlander)

Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.