London-based practice Studioilse has moved into Copenhagen design gallery The Apartment, taking up a two-month residency in the 18th century dwelling. Run by Tina Seidenfaden Busck, who previously spent a decade at Sotheby’s, the gallery is designed to evoke a private residence with all of its furniture, lighting, textiles and artwork available for purchase.
‘We always had the intention of bringing The Apartment to life as a home, not a gallery,’ explains Studioilse founder Ilse Crawford. To wit, she has filled the space with elements borrowed from her studio, Busck’s top-floor apartment in the same building, and her own home in London. The apartment's interiors, almost unrecognisable from their previous incarnations (the gallery has a revolving exhibition programme that sees its rooms continually reinvented), have been rendered in a palette of dark, fog greys and muted browns, with leafy plants peppered throughout. The rooms at the front of the flat are divided into an informal studio space, a living room and a quieter library area complete with a hammock.
The new exhibition recalls the studio’s recent project for Vitra and Artek – for which it imagined the home of a fictional couple – although there’s a broader aesthetic at play in the Copenhagen space. Crawford says, ‘We didn't want to make it too prescriptive – we want everyone who visits to feel like they can inhabit it themselves.’
Two new Studioilse designs have been launched just for the show: the ‘Ilse’, a contemporary, three-seater sofa produced by upholsterer George Smith; and the ‘Brass Cabinet’, crafted by North London manufacturer Jack Trench. Also furnishing The Apartment are pieces from Studioilse’s collections for De La Espada and George Jensen, alongside products by Michael Anastassiades, Muller Van Severen, Carl Aübock and Hans J Wegner.
It’s the first time these pieces have been shown in this context together, and they resonate with Crawford’s philosophy that good design supports human life and behaviour. ‘We toyed with the idea of calling the collection Invisible Furniture because, though each piece is beautiful in its own right, the starting point for everything has been that it supports daily life and daily rituals,’ she says. ‘They are the antithesis of showstopper design, where form is prized over function.’
Visitors to The Apartment will have even more reason to feel at home – up-and-coming chef Frederik Bille Brahe of local restaurant Atelier September will host a series of kitchen suppers to encourage discussion among friends, strangers and design experts. ‘Creating layers of life is always a challenge,’ says Crawford. ‘We talk of all our work as being "a frame for life": creating places, spaces and things that aren’t fixed. The final and most crucial element is to leave enough room for people to complete the picture.’