Christian+Jade's work starts from material investigation

Wallpaper* Future Icons: based in Copenhagen, Jade Chan and Christian Hammer Juhl work with a variety of materials, changing their perception through new concepts and contexts

Christian+Jade designer portrait
(Image credit: Courtesy Christian+Jade)

Jade Chan and Christian Hammer Juhl are transformers, changing perceptions of everyday materials by treating them in a novel way and presenting them in another context. Although early in their practice, the Copenhagen-based couple who work as Christian+Jade have already demonstrated a deft touch, conceptually and tangibly, with diverse materials – wood, glass, waxed paper or aluminium – the material often dictated by circumstances or context.

Christian+Jade: design from material investigation

Christian+Jade candle holder

‘Reflecting Flame’ sculptural wall candle holders

(Image credit: Neil Godwin at Future Studios for Wallpaper*)

They started working with aluminium, for instance, while on a study grant near Detroit where the alloy was integral to the car industry. Their Reflecting Flame sculptural wall pieces, hammer formed  in aluminium, are a self-contained unit for one, two or three candles that explore how a concave shape warps the reflected flame. 'What we were excited about is that we could transform something so sterile as aluminium into something soft and not industrial, offering a new perspective on something we think we know,' says Chan.

Chan, 29, and Hammer Juhl, 32, met at Design Academy Eindhoven in the early days of their design studies, both having elected to take an interdisciplinary education away from home, Singapore and Denmark, respectively. They started working together seamlessly but with complementary skills. Chan, who had studied visual art, using research as a tool for designing and Hammer Juhl giving their concepts form.

'We share a similar way of thinking and approach, translating and building ideas into design concepts together,' says Hammer Juhl. 'I get really excited diving into information, looking how to conceptualise things and Christian is really good at forming,' adds Chan. 

Christian+JAde lamp

Electrical Smoke Cloud Chandelier

(Image credit: Courtesy Christian+Jade)

During a study grant residency at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan in 2020, they learned how to work with aluminium from an aeroplane and car builder who used it to shape motorbike parts. 'He gave us a crash course and we started experimenting,' says Hammer Juhl. They made an oil lamp chandelier forming the flat sheets of aluminium into a shape that looks molten and reflects the flame of the burning oil. 'We were interested in how fire was once used in the home and what form it took,' says Chan. The chandelier led to the candleholders which they make by hand in limited editions. 

Christian+Jade paper lamp

Stitched, stacked, waxed ‘415’ for Jacqueline Sullivan Gallery

(Image credit: Courtesy Christian+Jade)

After graduating in 2018, they moved to Copenhagen two years later as the Covid pandemic struck. Sequestered at home during the lockdown, they used materials at hand, wax and paper, to develop lights inspired by the long history of paper lamps. When the New York-based Jacqueline Sullivan Gallery sent them a Gertrude Stein poem to interpret, they turned their home project into Vessels for Light, a collection of stacked, waxed, stitched paper lamps playing on the contrast between brutal forms and the fragility of paper and light. 

Christian+JAde Dinesen chair

Weight of Wood for Dinesen

(Image credit: Courtesy Christian+Jade)

A research project for the Danish timber company Dinesen called Weight of Wood, exploring the life of wood through its density, gave them the confidence to devote themselves fulltime to their studio last year. The slow process of hammering aluminium for the wall pieces became a metaphor for how to establish their practice. Methodically and precisely with open minds. 

'We never say we want to make a chair or a lamp, it’s always about an investigation of a new material and trying to understand the context of where things come from,' says Chan. And although they may do a deep dive researching, they want the knowledge to be manifested in raw and honest objects that people can use. 'Through utility you are able to shift attitudes, we think it’s a shame when knowledge is just knowledge,' says Chan.

Jeni Porter is the founding Editor and now Editor-at-Large of Ark Journal, a Copenhagen-based architecture, art and design magazine. Originally from Sydney, Jeni also writes for a range of international publications and does commissioned editorial-based projects for leading Danish brands.