Knax and ZJUP from LoCa. An Interview with Nicolai Sørensen from Studio Harrit & Sørensen
Without wanting to sound too much like Dieter Rams, good design really, really doesn’t have to be complicated or otherwise outrageous.
Created by Thomas Harrit and Nicolai Sørensen the idea couldn’t be any simpler nor the effect any more liberating. Through the integration of a series of self-retracting metal hooks in a piece of wood one creates a hanging system that takes up virtually no space, even when in use.
And now Studio Harrit & Sørensen are threatening to repeat the success of Knax with ZJUP – a wall mounted shoe holder system that is much simpler to use than to say.
In effect with ZJUP your shoes are held in place by a plastic bar: a non-spring loaded bar which consequently exerts no pressure on the shoes. The plastic wall panel meanwhile not only helps secure the shoes but also prevents muddy and/or wet shoes from coming into contact with the wall. The result is the secure storage of shoes in a space little wider than the depth of the shoe. And nothing to trip over in your hall.
At IMM Cologne we caught up with Nicolai Sørensen to quickly discuss the development of Knax, ZJUP and Studio Harrit & Sørensen.
(smow)blog: Starting at the beginning, how did Knax come about, did you approach LoCa or did they approach you?
Nicolai Sørensen: Back then LoCa hadn’t been established yet! And so it was more that Thorkild Lundsgaard, the founder of LoCa, approached us and said he needed a coat hanger. That was in 1993 and Knax was the very first project that our studio undertook.
(smow)blog: Excellent, and so were you fresh out of college, or…?
Nicolai Sørensen: No, no we had both spent three years at different studios and then decided to join forces and start our own studio.
(smow)blog: And did Thorkild come to you with a concept or were you free to create what you wanted?
Nicolai Sørensen: He had some vague ideas of what he wanted and he had actually made his own model of how he thought it might look: we still laugh about it today! It was horrible!
(smow)blog: And so knowing how low the level was, how then how did you develop the idea of the cut open piece of wood?
Nicolai Sørensen: The basic idea originated because at that time we were both living in quite small apartments in Copenhagen, and the hallways were quite narrow. And so the idea with Knax is that it can be used in such very narrow hallways without taking up too much space or getting in the way.
(smow)blog: And the development phase, how long did you work on it?
Nicolai Sørensen: It took about a year, but it has gone through several changes over the years. For example initially it was just small pieces of wood between the metal hooks, but after about two years we changed it so that it is now cut from one piece of wood so that the grain of the wood flows through the object. And then later came the hall stand, and now with ZJUP we have the first completely new project with LoCa since 1993.
(smow)blog: Excellent link, thank you very much! And again was that the case that LoCa came and said, we’ve got a coat hook, we’ve got a bag hook, we need a shoe hook, or….
Nicolai Sørensen: We’ve been trying to devise a shoe holder with LoCa for the past decade or so, but we just couldn’t settle on a really good idea that Thorkild liked and that also matched what we think the public would like and of course what we like ourselves. But with ZJUP we’re confident that we have that. The big problem with storing shoes is the different sizes and shapes of shoes and so the need to make something that can hold any type of shoes. And ZJUP can hold I would say about 95% of all shoe types without any problems.
(smow)blog: And to end. Knax was your first project since then you’ve worked on numerous projects across a range of disciplines. What type of work do you enjoy most, what for you is the most interesting?
Nicolai Sørensen: It’s the mix of projects that’s most interesting. But I also have to say that despite its age, Knax is still the most important and significant product we have.