After a few minutes with Henrik, you’re aware that the no-stress-can-do attitude that fuelled his segue into furniture design is intrinsic to his life and work. “I’m on the back of a horse, and I have absolutely no control [laughs].” He talks about the importance of not over-thinking the design process and even separates himself from his creativity. “My process is to just start. I simply sit down at my desk, pencil in hand, and the little guy inside me says, don’t worry, I’ll figure this out.” It’s clear that Henrik is applying liberal doabs of humility over the prep and theory that must underpin such a successful career. Later, he peels some of it away.
“Mind, pencil and paper and then computer. That’s my approach. The computer is the acid test, because everything can be made to look amazing on paper. The computer is where the design asks, “You drew me there, but do I really work?” and that’s a key stage in the process.”
“Compromise is invariably involved. Not that compromise or resistance is a bad thing. It helps you find the best solution. You can often encounter ten, twenty or a hundred obstacles to making a functional product at a decent price. I must always consider functionality, price, the target in the market, trends, my feelings, which I guess is a big part of what the client is paying for, plus input from engineers and craftsman. Which is why I say that design is the opposite of art. An artist is about expressing him or herself – no compromise. A designer is a facilitator – a midwife to a concept you could say.”
When asked about inspiration you get the same no-frills response that is by now expected and satisfying in equal measure. “It’s never a landscape or the colour of snow. It’s generally everyday objects: the side of a mouse mat, the fabric of a cushion. I used to write down those moments of inspiration, but now I just leave them and trust that my mind will recall it when required.”